DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA has denied Belgium’s request to wear team jerseys with a “Love” label at the World Cup in Qatar because of a commercial link to a rave festival.
Multi-color detail on the white shirt was described as a “symbol for mutual values on diversity, equality and inclusivity” at the September launch by Belgium’s signature electronic music event Tomorrowland.
But FIFA rules on team uniforms and equipment forced Belgium to change its World Cup plans for its first alternate jersey to the traditional red.
“We had to skip it for commercial reasons because of referring to Tomorrowland,” the Belgian soccer federation said Monday.
FIFA declined to comment on its ruling regarding the second-choice jersey, which was made several weeks ago.
The decision emerged Monday after FIFA flexed its power to crack down on Belgium and six other European teams for wanting their captains to wear the “One Love” armband with a multi-colored, heart-shaped logo in Qatar. The teams backed down when FIFA threatened instant yellow cards for each captain.
The armband, which breaks FIFA equipment rules, was to support a Dutch anti-discrimination campaign that drew attention to the host nation’s record on human rights.
The “One Love” campaign highlighted little-known FIFA rules that Belgium also fell foul of.
All 32 World Cup teams had to seek FIFA approval for designs and colors of three contrasting team uniforms months ahead of the tournament. FIFA has now approved the white Belgium jersey with the same colored trim but the “Love” label covered up on the inside of the collar.
“In principle we could play in it (at the World Cup),” the Belgian soccer federation said, “but meanwhile we chose to play in red for the group-stage matches.”
Belgium starts its Group F program against Canada on Wednesday. The 2018 World Cup semifinalists then play Morocco and Croatia, the losing finalist from four years ago.
A similar case enforced by European soccer body UEFA last year saw Ajax denied permission to include a "Three Little Birds" motif on a shirt inspired by reggae music icon Bob Marley for Champions League games.
Ajax could wear the black shirt with gold, red and green trim to honor its fans' anthem but UEFA ruled the motif had to be removed from the back of the shirt.
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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press