England captain Harry Kane won't wear 'OneLove' armband in World Cup after FA back down over booking threat

21 November 2022, 07:10 | Updated: 21 November 2022, 12:28

England skipper Harry Kane could miss England's final group game after FIFA threaten to card captains defying armband law
England skipper Harry Kane could miss England's final group game after FIFA threaten to card captains defying armband law. Picture: Alamy / PA

By Danielle De Wolfe

England and Wales have backed down and decided not to wear OneLove armbands after a threat from FIFA that captains could face an instant yellow card.

"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," a joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland said.

The teams said they were prepared to "pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations" but "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," the statement added.

Downing Street said Fifa's actions over the armband were frustrating.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We share the FA's frustration with Fifa's decision on this which puts players in a very difficult position.

"It is, ultimately, a decision for the FA.

"On LGBT rights more broadly, clearly Qatar's policies are not those of the UK Government and not ones we would endorse."

The row comes after the start of the World Cup has been marred by a string of controversies concerning Qatar's record on human rights

Nine skippers including Kane and Wales captain Gareth Bale had pledged to wear the multi-coloured heart armbands as a gesture of solidarity against host nation Qatar's anti-LGBT laws .

Homosexuality remains outlawed in the Gulf State, with those convicted facing up to seven years in prison. The wearing of the armband by skippers is intended to highlight the issue.

Read more: Joe Lycett shreds £10,000 to protest David Beckham's £10 million World Cup deal for homophobic Qatar

Read more: Iran's World Cup Captain says football team 'support' those who have died in anti-government protests

England skipper Harry Kane could miss England's final group game if he defies Fifa armband ban
England skipper Harry Kane could miss England's final group game if he defies Fifa armband ban. Picture: Alamy / PA

This caller gives a passionate instant reaction to Harry Kane not wearing

The tournament's opening ceremony, which took place on Sunday evening, featured actor Morgan Freeman, as well as US pop star Nicki Minaj, K-Pop superstars BTS, and British artist Robbie Williams.

Taking place in front of the Qatari royal family, images depicted rows of empty seats inside the Al Bayt stadium.

Williams was one of a growing list of stars to come under fire for endorsing Qatar in recent days in spite of their human rights record.

It also follows claims by The Guardian that 6,500 migrants have died in Qatar since construction began on facilities ahead of the World Cup.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC's breakfast show, the UK's minister for immigration Robert Jenrick was quizzed on his advice for members of the LGBT+ community who are going to watch the football live from Qatar.

He said: "I think when you visit a foreign country you always have to respect their laws and values and some issues are kind of utmost importance and are universal values and that's how we view the right of LGBT people to express themselves and so I would ask them to be respectful but not ask them to change [their views]."

Former England captain and worldwide footballing icon David Beckham also faced criticism for his support of the Gulf State's tournament, in what's rumoured to be a deal worth £10 million.

Recent days saw widespread outrage at celebrity endorsements, with comedian Joe Lycett following through with his threat to shred £10,000 of his own money if Beckham went ahead with the scheduled appearance.

Morgan Freeman took part in Qatar's World Cup opening ceremony on Sunday night
Morgan Freeman took part in Qatar's World Cup opening ceremony on Sunday night. Picture: Getty

England's first Group B game is set to be against Iran on Monday, with the skipper facing the prospect of a yellow card if he wears the armband as planned.

It comes as the host nation took on Ecuador - a game which saw the Arab nation lose 2-0 in a match which had the lowest number of goal opportunities since stats began in 1966.

'Fans' could be seen exiting the stadium at half time, without returning.

Speaking live on air, BBC pundit and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer labelled a winter World Cup "weird".

He later pushed back on criticism by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who yesterday accused Western nations of “hypocrisy” and noting they were not in any position to give “moral lessons”.

Qatar  v Ecuador -World Cup
Qatar v Ecuador -World Cup. Picture: Getty

Infantino delivered the extraordinary hour-long speech in a pre-tournament press conference, declaring "today I feel gay" and "I feel (like) a migrant worker" before taking aim at European critics of Qatar.

Shearer's comments follow fellow pundit Gary Neville labelling the FIFA president "the worst face" to represent the Qatar World Cup following the controversial monologue on Saturday.

He also called on the governing body, which was disgraced following an investigation into vote buying, to "clean up its act".

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