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Why was the Swedish handball team captain banned from wearing a rainbow armband?

Why was the Swedish handball team captain banned from wearing a rainbow armband?

The Swedish Handball Team winning their first game in Poland

It was the eve of Sweden’s first match in the European Handball Championship when the captain was told he was banned from wearing a rainbow armband.

Tobias Karlsson, the captain for the team, said he was planning on wearing the band as a protest against Poland’s refusal to recognize many LGBTI rights.

He wanted to wear it as a ‘quiet manifestation for acceptance and that every person is of equal worth’.

But on Friday (15 January), he was told a new rule instated that day by the European Handball Federation has said the captain’s armband must only be of the country’s colors.

‘I think it is a real shame,’ Karlsson told the Swedish paper Aftonbladet.

‘It is sad that the EHF chooses that path and does not allow us to express our feelings about humanity and how I think people should be treated.

‘I have to say I am surprised. We were told only a few days ago that it was OK to wear the armband. Norway’s and Iceland’s captains have been in touch about also wearing one so we sent a few to them.’

Arne Elovsson, the VP of the EHF, said he was not part of making the decision to introduce the rule but said that it was an ‘unwritten rule’ that has never been questioned before.

‘Now that it was raised one had to make a decision and go back to the rules and try to interpret them from a global perspective. That is the explanation. There is logic in this and they were unanimous in their decision.’

This is a similar situation to the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee said they would punish any athlete at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 from wearing any rainbow colors including on laces, pins or armbands. If they made a ‘political statement’, they would be disqualified.