CNN  — 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino pleaded with countries to let football take center stage ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, but it hasn’t quite worked out like that.

Soccer’s global governing body has found itself at loggerheads with seven European nations over the threat of sanctions for any player wearing a “OneLove” armband during games.

The eleventh-hour announcement from FIFA has created a rift between soccer’s governing body and the seven nations involved, although neither side has emerged free from criticism.

The “OneLove” armband – which features the outline of a heart striped in different colors – was intended to be worn by captains from England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales at the World Cup to promote inclusion and display solidarity with people of different genders and sexual identities.

But hours before England captain Harry Kane was scheduled to wear the armband against Iran on Monday, FIFA said any player wearing the armbands would receive a yellow card, putting them in danger of being sent off or banned from a later game in the tournament.

Kane (right) wears the "OneLove" armband during the Nations League game between England and Italy on September 23.

FIFA regulations state that team captains must wear armbands provided by the governing body, even though it said it “supports all legitimate causes, such as ‘OneLove.’”

However, the debacle has rumbled on as a sideshow to the tournament itself.

If players like Kane didn’t wear the armband, Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib did as she talked to Infantino at the World Cup game between Belgium and Canada on Wednesday.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also wore the armband with Infantino sitting close by during her country’s 2-1 defeat against Japan.

“It’s quite scary for LGBTQ plus communities around the world to see our lives be so controversial … It’s become this quite painful, drawn-out debate that is questioning on a global scale the validity of LGBTQ+ lives,” Liz Ward, director of programmes at LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, told CNN Sport.

In a joint statement, the seven European federations said they asked their captains not to wear the “OneLove” armband as they couldn’t “put players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings.”

That stance was reinforced by Jakob Jensen, CEO of the Danish FA, who told CNN Connect the World this week that it’s “not the responsibility of the players to discuss human rights in Qatar, or to discuss the decisions of FIFA.”

“These fantastic football players in our team, they’ve been dreaming of the World Cup since they were little boys,” Jensen said.

“We do not want to take them off the pitch. We want the matches to be won on the pitch, not behind a desk. So that’s why we chose to do this.”

Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib wears a "OneLove" armband in the stands.

If players receive two yellow cards in two different matches, they are automatically suspended from their next match at the World Cup, while two yellow cards in the same match would see them sent off.

But some former players believe it would have been a risk worth taking.

“That would have been a great statement,” said former Republic of Ireland midfielder Roy Keane, speaking as a pundit on ITV.

“Do it for the first game, if you get your yellow card, what a message that would have been from Kane or [Wales captain Gareth] Bale.

“Take your medicine, and then the next game you move on. You don’t wear it because obviously you don’t want to be getting suspended. I think it was a big mistake.”