Handball players forbidden to wear rainbow armbands

Captains of the women’s handball teams were forbidden to wear rainbow-colored armbands as a sign of support for queer rights during yesterday’s matches at the cup finals in Iceland. Chairman of The Player‘s Union of Iceland hopes that captains of the mens‘ teams will wear theirs in today’s matches.

“We stand guard of rights and interests of athletes; help players with various factors, for example negotiations, legal aspects, polls, insurance matters and more,” says Hafdís and adds that the union has big plans for the rainbow colored armbands. “Yes, we do have big plans and our aim is to get parties within the sports movement to cooperate with us.“

“We are of course extremely disappointed that captains of the women‘s teams in the final four were not allowed to wear the rainbow-colored captain armbands that we gave them,” says Hafdís Inga Hinriksdóttir, chairman of The Players’ Union of Iceland (Leikmannasamtök Íslands).

The union had given the armbands to the captains of each of the four women‘s handball teams that are competing in the cup finals (The Coca Cola cup), as well as the captains of the four remaining teams in the men’s league. The semi finals in the women’s league took place last night, with teams Fram and Stjarnan advancing to tomorrow‘s finals. The captains were not allowed to wear the armbands because it’s against regulations of the International Handball Federation’s (IHF). According to them captain armbands can only be of one color and can not include any logos.

“This is done to make sure that players do not spread political propaganda,“ explains Hafdís.  „But we at the union never expected that anything like this could happen in Iceland, since things are so easily monitored here.”

“…we at the union never expected that anything like this could happen in Iceland, since things are so easily monitored here.”

She says that The Icelandic Player‘s Union has already had a very good dialogue with the teams and that both players and captains have been extremely supportive of the union‘s initiative. “We have been giving out these armbands since last summer and are proud to mention that Davíð Þór Viðarsson, captain of FH football team, accepted the Icelandic championship trophy wearing his band. Everyone is very open to the idea and happy about it. We have only been met with positivity,” says Hafdís and adds that the Icelandic Handball Association and the head of the referees approve of this initiative.

This is not the first time that players are forbidden to wear the rainbow armbands. EM 2016 Bjarte Myrhol, captain of the Norwegian men’s national handball team, and Guðjón Valur planned to lead their teams on the court with a rainbow coloured captain armband as a sign of support for equal rights for all. Unfortunately they were not able to do so due to regulations.

Hafdís and her colleagues at the union strongly encourage captains of the men‘s handball teams to wear their armbands today, at the matches between Valur and FH, and Haukur and Afturelding. “If players wear the armbands today, then they‘re sending a clear message to everyone in the sport’s world. That there needs to be a change in sports regarding prejudice – no matter what they may be.

The fact that only one male player in the Icelandic premier league in handball is openly gay must be an indication that gay male players are afraid to come out. That is precisely why we have to discuss these things and puncture this abscess. By being visible and for example using captain’s armbands this way we are showing young players, who are watching their role models compete, that everyone has a place in sports independent of color, religion, sexual orientation and so on. We‘re showing that respect for others is a big part of sports. And that everyone is welcome.“

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