Fact Check: UEFA Did NOT Make Team Captains Wear Armband In Support Of Pro-LGBTQ+ Campaign During Euro 2020

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: UEFA Did NOT Make Team Captains Wear Armband In Support Of Pro-LGBTQ+ Campaign During Euro 2020 Not Required

Did the Union of European Football Associations force team captains to wear a pro-LGTBQ+ armband during the organization's Euro 2020 competition and was Cristiano Ronaldo the only one not to wear it? No, that's not true: Instances of armbands worn during Euro 2020 in support of the LBGTQ+ community were not an order from the governing body. The OneLove armband, part of a specific campaign that supports anti-discrimination causes, was most notably sported by just one team captain who decided to wear it.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on June 16, 2024. The post, which featured a picture of German soccer player Manuel Neuer wearing a rainbow armband and Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo with a Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) "Respect" armband on, was captioned:

At Euro 2020, UEFA (European Football Association) ordered all team captains to wear 'OneLove' bands. The band was used as a symbol of LGBTQ.
But, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was the only European captain who did not wear the band.
Respect ❤️

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

onelove armband uefa FB post.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Jun 20 14:42:07 2024 UTC)

It is important to note that the edited image included in the post -- with the original image taken during a Euro 2020 match between the German and Portuguese national teams (archived here) -- is not quite related to the OneLove armband. Neuer, the captain of the German national team, had on the rainbow armband in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. He was being investigated by the UEFA for the action before the organization dropped the issue (archived here). However, reports did not connect the armband he independently wore during Euro 2020 with the OneLove campaign: his association with the OneLove campaign came during later competitions.

The OneLove armband, which featured the words "One Love" with a rainbow-striped heart between the words, was a product of the OneLove campaign. The Dutch Football Association started the anti-discrimination campaign in 2020 to advertise the idea that "football unites millions of people all around the world from all places in society"(archived here).

However, at Euro 2020 -- which was held in 2021 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in 2020 -- there was no stipulation that the armband be worn by all team captains. Instead, the most high-profile case of the armband being worn was by Georginio Wijnaldum, who served as the captain of the Dutch national team. The game during which he wore the armband was held in Budapest shortly after the Hungarian government passed a law that would, according to the European Commission, seek to restrict minors from engaging with content related to gender reassignment or sexuality that deviates from heterosexuality. Thus, Wijnaldum's wearing of the OneLove armband was in response to this legislation.

In an email sent to Lead Stories on June 20, 2024, about whether there was a mandate to wear OneLove armbands during Euro 2020, the UEFA media told us "There was no such rule."

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to Cristiano Ronaldo can be found here.

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