FIFA and UEFA both take a strict stance on the use of political imagery in football.
Law 4 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game states: “Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.
“The team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment (of which the captain’s armband is one) has political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images will be sanctioned.”
The FA and other European nations are, however, confident the use of the rainbow armband is not in breach of FIFA’s rules.
England captain Harry Kane and head coach Southgate have backed the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination campaign but accepted it will have a limited impact in Qatar.
Kane will pull on that armband for the first time in England’s Nations League tie with Italy at the San Siro on Friday night.
Asked about the impact the campaign could realistically have in Qatar, given the country’s human rights record, Kane said on Thursday: “There is only so much the players can actually do and wearing the armband on the biggest stage in the world will have an impact.
“But we can only do what we can. We have definitely taken a step forward to help some of the issues in Qatar.”
Kane revealed he had spoken to former team-mate and Denmark captain Christian Eriksen and his current Tottenham colleague Hugo Lloris, who captains France, about the campaign.
It has been launched just a couple of months before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar, where a spotlight has been shone on the treatment of migrant workers and where Kick It Out says there is a “risk” for LGBTQ+ fans and players who may wish to travel to the Gulf state for the tournament due to homosexuality being criminalised in the country.
Asked about the campaign, England boss Gareth Southgate added: “There is not a lot more the players in particular can do other than talk about those issues and put them on the table because in the end, we are asking for change in a country we are respectful of, has made progress, but don’t have any control over.”
Southgate continued: “We’ve done a lot of research, the FA have had countless meetings with NGOs, migrant workers in Qatar, they’ve gathered all the information and requests of people affected. There’s a limit to what can be achieved.
“Talking about the issues and raising the issues and putting them on the table is the vehicle that people involved in sport we’ve used in the past and it is what we’re trying to do this time.
“There will always be criticism, whatever you do but we’re trying to affect the areas we’ve been asked to affect. Unless other ideas come forward and other requests that we think are suitable are on the table, then it’s difficult to do more than we’ve been asked.”