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How FIFA Treats Political Symbols

According to the Laws of the Game, Law 04, Section 5:

“Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.”

FIFA Equipment Regulations, Article 8, Section 3, explain that “Decorative elements may...not produce, or by any other means give, the (visual) impression of...a political or comparative symbol by displaying or stylising or by any other means giving the impression of registered trademarks or recognisable, but unregistered, designs.”

FIFA and its members have in the past enforced Laws of the Game, Law 04, Section 5, along with Equipment Regulations, Article 8, Section 3. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • In 2016, FIFA fined the Football Association of Ireland for wearing a jersey with text commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rebellion.

  • In 2017, FIFA issued a warning to Argentina for “Wearing [a captain’s] armband with symbol.”

  • In 2018, England’s Football Association fined the manager of Manchester City F.C., Pep Guardiola, for violating the ban on political symbols by wearing a yellow ribbon in remembrance of Catalan political prisoners during a match.

During the qualifying matches leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA disciplined 20 teams, i.e. 16 countries plus England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, for politics-related violations during matches.

Here is the list of those who were disciplined and their violations: Albania (“political slogan,” “political chants”), Armenia (“political flag,” “political banner”), Austria (“political and discriminatory banners and political chants”), Azerbaijan (“political banner”), Belarus (“political banners”), Chile (“political chants”), Denmark (“political flag”), Ecuador (“political message”), England (“political banners and flags,” “political symbol”), Greece (“political banners”), Malaysia (“political banner”), Northern Ireland (“political banners and flags”), Norway (“political banner”), Poland (“political banner”), Qatar (“political image...political displays”), Romania (“political banners and flags”), Scotland (“political banners and flags. . .wearing non- approved armband with political symbol”), Serbia (“political banners, political...chants,” “political chants,” “political...banners and political chants,” “political...banners,”), Sweden (“political banners”), Wales (“political symbols and banners”).

This blog post is the "Political Symbols Banned from Soccer" section (page 3) of the 2019 report "Let All Play: Yes to Soccer, No to Politics." CLICK to read the full report.


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