England will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar, it has been confirmed.
The FA and Harry Kane had been adamant that they would wear the armband as a message of anti-discrimination and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
But on Monday morning, FA CEO Mark Bullingham said England have been exploring whether there is “another way to show our values” after FIFA threatened to book any captain wearing the OneLove rainbow armband in World Cup matches.
Now a joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland, has explained why those nations have opted not not to wear it following continued pressure from FIFA.
It reads: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”
Carra: England will look weak if they bow to FIFA pressure
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher had said that England would look “weak” if they agreed not to wear the OneLove armband following continued pressure from FIFA.
Speaking on Sky Sports News‘ World Cup Breakfast before the announcement, former England defender Carragher said the decision to wear the armband should not be up for discussion at this late stage.
“Harry Kane has to wear it,” he said.
“England have made a big noise about the fact that he is going to wear this, that this is their protest to the World Cup being in Qatar, human rights and everything that goes on in the country that people have criticised.
“This is England’s way of showing that they don’t agree with everything that’s going on in the country.
“They can’t pull out now. The fact that Harry Kane may get a yellow card only strengthens the campaign. For England to pull out because of a yellow card for Kane, I think would be weak, so I think it should make them more determined.”
Later in the conversation, Carragher also offered his thoughts on Gareth Southgate’s reported team selection for this afternoon’s opener against Iran, with Harry Maguire starting in a 4-3-3.
“I think [a back four is a good idea], because of the nature of the opposition. I think it will be a game where England have a lot of possession and it will be a case of whether they can break Iran down?” he added.
“I expect them to do so, but I don’t think it will be a game they win three or four-nil. I think it will still be a tight game, made really difficult by Carlos Quieroz, who notoriously sets his teams up as hard to play against.
“I’m pleased Gareth has gone with the extra attacking player and I think, in the knockout rounds – if England get through, which I think they will – they will go back to a back three, considering the opposition they will come up against.
“I think that’s a strength of England under Gareth Southgate; they are flexible as a team and I think it helps that, when you go into big games, the opposition don’t know exactly what you going to do going into that game.
Reports also suggest Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham are likely to feature from the start, which Carragher thinks will benefit Southgate’s side.
“I’d have started both of those players,” he said. “We had a chat at Fulham after the last Premier League game we covered on Sky, where we all said what our teams would be and I felt that it would be a 4-3-3 and you’d have to go for Saka in that game because of the pace alongside Kane.
“He needs players who have got pace and can make penetrating runs in behind him. Saka is in such good form, playing in a team who are top of the table.
“I think Bellingham is one of the first names on the team sheet, even though he isn’t an England regular. I think it would be difficult for anybody to pick an England team without putting him in it.”
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