Updated: May 23, 2019
Article 20 of FIFA's Equipment Regulations sets out the rules for the captain's armband. The rules imply that the armband should be of a single color and FIFA bans "marks, statements or slogans" on the armband.
Yet in recent years, teams have been placing a multi-colored, political mark, the LGBT rainbow, on the captain's armband in some international and professional matches. Not only are there players who object to wearing this political symbol, but also this appears to violate the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which are as follows:
FIFA Equipment Regulations, Article 20.1: “A captain’s armband exclusively provided by FIFA must be used for all Matches of Final Competitions. FIFA may provide two captain’s armbands in contrasting Colours or two different types of captain’s
FIFA Equipment Regulations, Article 20.3: “Captain’s armbands shall remain free of, and shall not produce, in FIFA’s discretion, the visual effect of an identification of a Member Association other than a National Flag, a Manufacturer’s Identification, identification of a Supplier, a sponsor, any Decorative Element or any further elements such as marks, statements or slogans, except for the word “captain” or an abbreviation or translation thereof.”
The next edition of the FIFA Equipment Regulations should clarify the language regarding colors on the armband. The phrase "armbands in contrasting Colours" appears to imply that each armband is a single color, one monochrome armband contrasting with the color of the monochrome armband of the opposing team. The Equipment Regulations should state this more clearly.
Also, is the armband color supposed to contrast with the kit, or are the two monochrome armbands just supposed to contrast with each other? This is not clear in the regulation.
Importantly, the next edition of the Laws of the Game from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) should make clear that Law 04.5 - “Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” - applies to the captain's armband. Politics do not belong on the captain's armband. The armband is for soccer, not for promoting causes.
For more about the problem of political symbols being placed on the captain's armband in soccer matches, see pages 18-19 of the 2019 report, "Let All Play: Yes to Soccer, No to Politics." CLICK to view the full report.