A Swedish handball captain has been blocked from wearing a rainbow armband.

The European Handball Federation introduced a rule which means Swedish captain Tobias Karlsson can’t fulfil his promise to wear the armband in Poland as a silent protest against the country’s lack of same-sex marriage laws.

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He said he intended to wear it “as a quiet manifestation for acceptance and that every person is of equal worth”.

The new rule means captains can only wear an armband consisting of the country’s colours.

“I think it is a real shame,” Karlsson told Aftonbladet.

He went on: “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.”

He added: “I am not quite sure what we will use now. The two other armbands we have are red-and-white and black.”

The governing body’s vice president Arne Elovsson, said he was not part of the decision to implement the rule.

He said after: “My interpretation is that this question has never been raised 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.”

The Swedish team will play its first game, against Slovenia, on Saturday.