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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo controls the ball during the Euro 2020 group B qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Lithuania, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP) Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo controls the ball during the Euro 2020 group B qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Lithuania, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP)

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo controls the ball during the Euro 2020 group B qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Lithuania, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP)

Grace Abels
By Grace Abels June 21, 2024

Claim about Cristiano Ronaldo and rainbow armbands is False

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  • There is evidence that three team captains — from Germany, England, and Denmark — wore rainbow or pro-LGBTQ+ armbands during this tournament, which included 24 teams. 

  • Germany’s captain, Manuel Neuer, was briefly investigated by the Union of European Football Associations for his rainbow armband. 

  • Cristiano Ronaldo was among many other captains who wore normal armbands. 

Soccer, football, or fútbol — no matter what you call it, you likely know one of the sport’s most famous players: Cristiano Ronaldo. But did the Portuguese captain, known for breaking records, refuse to wear a pro-LGBTQ armband at a European tournament?

"At Euro 2020, UEFA (European Football Association) ordered all team captains to wear ‘OneLove’ bands. The band was used as a symbol of LGBTQ," read the caption on a June 16 Facebook post, "but, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was the only European captain who did not wear the band." The post's caption was later edited to say Ronaldo chose not to wear the armband.

The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The post includes an image of Ronaldo and Germany team captain Manuel Neuer. Neuer is sporting a rainbow armband; Ronaldo is not.

(Screenshot of Facebook post)

But this post misses the goal. 

Euro 2020 was a continentwide soccer tournament organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) that took place in June 2021. A handful of team captains wore LGBTQ-supportive armbands during the tournament, but it wasn’t universal among the 24 teams. A UEFA spokesperson confirmed to PolitiFact that there was no rule requiring captains to wear such an armband. 

Featured Fact-check

We found several images from the 2020 tournament of other captains without any rainbow or pro-LGBTQ+ armbands. 

The players who wore pro-LGBTQ+ armbands, namely Netherlands team captain Gini Wijnaldum, England captain Harry Kane and Neuer, garnered headlines for doing so. 

The UEFA initially launched an investigation into Neuer’s armband to determine whether it violated rules about making political statements, according to ESPN, but the group dropped its investigation.

The "One Love" armbands mentioned in the Facebook post are part of a 2020 campaign started by the Dutch Football Association designed to combat discrimination in soccer. The movement grew more visible ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Before the World Cup, several European team captains had agreed to wear the "One Love" band, but backed down after FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards over it. Ronaldo was not one of the seven captains who had committed to wearing the armband.

Ronaldo was not the "only" team captain who didn’t wear a rainbow armband during Euro 2020; most of the captains did not. Those who did, like Neuer, were investigated by the UEFA. We rate this mistaken Facebook claim False. 

Our Sources

Email interview with UEFA spokesperson, June 20, 2024

Facebook post, June 16, 2024

UEFA, "Season 2020 | UEFA EURO 2020," accessed June 20, 2024

The New York Times, Euro 2020: Chiellini, Bonucci and the Art of Defense," July 9, 2021

X post, July 6, 2021

X post, Aug. 24, 2021

The Associated Press, "Czech Republic captain Darida retires from national team," July 4, 2021

Firstpost, "Euro 2020: 'It's painful', says France captain Hugo Lloris after shock Round of 16 defeat against Switzerland," June 29, 2021

CNN, "​​Switzerland stuns France in Euro 2020 as Kylian Mbappe misses in penalty shootout," June 28, 2021

The Guardian, "Ukraine’s Yarmolenko extra-motivated for England match, warns teammate | Euro 2020," July 1, 2021

The Washington Post, "Dutch player Gini Wijnaldum shares ‘one love’ message on armband in Euro match," June 27, 2021

The Independent, "Harry Kane: England captain wears rainbow armband against Germany," June 29, 2021

SkySports, "Harry Kane and Manuel Neuer to wear rainbow armbands for England vs Germany at Euro 2020," June 29, 2021

ESPN, "Germany's Manuel Neuer won't face disciplinary action for rainbow armband," June 21, 2021

The Athletic, "UEFA halt Neuer investigation as rainbow armband is in support of diversity," June 20, 2021

KNVB, "Ten countries embrace the Dutch OneLove campaign," Sept. 21, 2022

Time, "The 'One Love' LGBTQ Rights Armband Is Causing a Stir at the Qatar World Cup," Nov. 21, 2021

ESPN. "Why FIFA banned LGBTQ OneLove armband at the World Cup," Nov. 21, 2022

Axios, "World Cup teams ditch plans to wear rainbow armbands after FIFA threats," Nov. 21, 2022

Reuters, "World Cup 2022: what is the OneLove armband and why did FIFA ban it?," Nov. 29, 2022

Forbes, "World Cup: Teams Will Not Wear Rainbow Armbands After FIFA Threatens Yellow Cards," Nov. 21, 2022

Reuters, "Seven European World Cup captains ditch OneLove armband following FIFA pressure," Nov. 21, 2022

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