Jamie Carragher said England should have been more determined to wear the OneLove armband despite FIFA's threat to book any captain who wore one; Harry Kane wore the FIFA approved armband during the win over Iran; Wales and other European nations will also not wear the OneLove armband
Monday 21 November 2022 18:14, UK
England will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar, with the U-turn announced just three hours before the 6-2 win over Iran.
The FA and Harry Kane had been adamant the England captain 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 had 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, while Sky Sports News understands they could have also potentially faced a one-game ban.
Less than an hour later, a statement released by the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland confirmed they would not wear the armband.
"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," the statement read.
"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."
FIFA subsequently confirmed its 'No Discrimination' campaign had been brought forward and Kane wore the approved armband during England's 6-2 win over Iran.
"Following discussions, FIFA can confirm its No Discrimination campaign has been brought forward from the planned quarter-finals stage in order that all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022," the governing body said.
"This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which state: "For FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain's armband provided by FIFA."
"The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 regulations, as approved by everyone in the game, exist to preserve the integrity of the field of play for all participants and are equally applicable to all competing teams.
"FIFA is an inclusive organisation that wants to put football to the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but it has to be done within the framework of the competition regulations which are known to everyone."
Responding to FIFA's threats to sanction players who planned to wear 'OneLove' armbands to show support for the LGBTI community, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International's head of economic and social justice, said: "Last-minute threats to sanction players for wearing messages in support of human rights and equality is the latest example of FIFA failing to fully uphold its own values and responsibilities. Sport does not happen in a vacuum and these are issues on which FIFA should be leading, not cracking down on.
"Agreements on armbands, and better protections for LGBT communities, should have been reached a long time ago.
"We applaud the courage of teams and players who have spoken out about human rights and we hope they continue to do so. Fans, players and FAs want to ensure that football can be a vehicle to promote human rights, and FIFA needs to heed these calls quickly. It must not only encourage messages of equality, but take proactive action to ensure LGBTI people are protected.
"And let's not forget the migrant workers who made the tournament possible. They must be compensated in full for the unspeakable abuse they suffered."
Sky Sports News reporters Kaveh Solhekol and Rob Dorsett later revealed Kane could have been banned for at least one game if he had worn the OneLove armband for England against Iran.
"It's our understanding that it wasn't just the threat of a yellow card that stopped Harry Kane from wearing that armband," Solhekol said. "I think there was the chance or the risk that Harry Kane or any other captain who wore that armband, could have been banned for at least one game.
"So when FIFA talks about sporting sanctions, I think it would have been possible that if Harry Kane had worn that OneLove armband, the referee would have shown him a yellow card before kick-off. But I also think it was possible that nothing would have happened during the game, but after the game FIFA would have opened up a disciplinary process and then a real chance he could have been banned by FIFA for at least one game."
Dorsett added: "The fact the FA and Harry Kane weren't sure what the punishment would be left them in no position to take that risk with England going forward.
"You're not going to hear the end of this OneLove discussion. A lot of people inside the FA are very unhappy, and a lot of campaign groups and representatives of the LGBTQ+ community are very unhappy with the FA."
Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher had said 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 U-turn, Carragher said: "Harry Kane has to wear it.
"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."
Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes provided the Welsh perspective, following the news Gareth Bale would be one of seven captains who would not wear the OneLove armband in Qatar.
"I had a conversation with the chief executive of the Welsh FA, Noel Mooney, just prior to the official announcement, when he let me know what was going to be happening - and they are just incredibly, incredibly disappointed," he said.
"For Wales, this was not just about aligning themselves with a number of other football associations, but part of their cultural identity and trying to grow football to being inclusive.
"They have worked very much as an association to make it more inclusive in men's and women's football, and the growth with girl's and boy's football as well. There was also the realisation the LGBTQ+ community love football and love coming to watch the men's and women's senior teams and they want them to be part of the Red Wall.
"The Rainbow Wall are not here in Qatar because they are too scared to come and they don't want to come because they don't want to be part of what they see as a sportswashing event. So the whole point of the Welsh FA making this gesture with the players was to be in solidarity with that community. It really showed that they cared about them.
"I always try in my reporting to give all sides of the story, but it's very difficult not to see this as a very, very canny political move by FIFA, where they have timed it to perfection, as far as they are concerned."
Sports Media LGBTQ+ editor and consultant Jon Holmes:
"I think the pressure that has been put on the national associations by FIFA has resulted in this climb-down. It's the shared sense of unity of the European nations coming together to make this collective stand that has been damaged and that has been felt by the LGBT community.
"I think there were mixed feelings around how effective the OneLove armband would be in raising awareness of LGBT human rights, as well as the wider anti-discrimination message, but if there's any sort of positive to be taken from this, I think it has highlighted the importance of the sentiment and that might actually make it go a little bit further.
"I think they could have [taken a stronger stance]. I think it would have been a very different decision for England going first out of all of these nations. Perhaps there were other ways they could have had that visibility of the armband; I know it has been worn on TV today during the live game, but perhaps members of the coaching staff could have worn it.
"England, in particular, were always in a difficult position and I do have some sympathy for the players and the staff being put in this difficult position just hours before kick-off. For them to have to make the decision on the hoof was really hard.
"The fact is Harry Kane is still wearing a 'No Discrimination' armband in the game today, so that is something to be taken from it. But it was a way to show solidarity with LGBT people and that hasn't happened, so of course it's a hit."
Robbie Dos Santos, Stonewall's director of communications and external affairs, on Sky Sports News:
"We're incredibly disappointed. It's been so fantastic to see so much strong support from the England team, from the Wales team and other captains across the tournament for LGBTQ+ rights.
"I've never seen anything like it my life. Just seeing so many high-profile people talking about LGBTQ+ rights and in a country where it is so badly needed. It's really disappointing that FIFA are essentially trying to brush human rights under the carpet and are politicising what would have been a very peaceful protest.
"What we've seen in the years building up to the tournament is a real desire by the English and Welsh football teams to show as much support for LGBTQ+ rights, for women's rights and for labour rights over this tournament. I really cannot fault how steadfast they have been in supporting our communities and others.
"But FIFA have really disappointed us. They have reneged on promises, said some incredibly unhelpful things about LGBTQ+ rights and it's all a huge distraction from the fact that in Qatar and 70 countries across the world, LGBTQ+ people are criminalised for just existing, for daring to have relationships with people they love and to be who they are.
"I just think FIFA has really misread the global mood on this and the way they are behaving is absolutely appalling."
The Football Supporters' Association expressed its "contempt" for FIFA after plans by England and Wales to wear anti-discrimination armbands were dropped under threat of sporting sanction.
A statement read: "To paraphrase FIFA president Gianni Infantino - today LGBT+ football supporters and their allies will feel angry. Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance.
"Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women's rights, worker's rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup.
"Since 2010 we have been raising questions about the suitability of Qatar as a World Cup host. Everyone could see this coming and it's astonishing that, on the morning of England's World Cup opener, FIFA are trying to censor players for sharing a positive message."
Anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out also condemned FIFA's move.
"We are disappointed that FIFA are intent on imposing sanctions on European nations who choose to wear the 'One Love' armband, preventing teams from sending a strong statement to the world that diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the game," its statement read.
"This decision continues to highlight FIFA's failure to address concerns of both human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community in the build-up to this tournament.
"Players and fans should not have had to bear the burden of FIFA's mistakes and we will continue to support Gareth Southgate, and his team, as they look to explore other ways to support inclusion in football.
"Football should be a game for everyone and Kick It Out continue to stand with the LGBTQ+ community in solidarity."
Meanwhile, a joint statement from 3 Lions Pride and The Rainbow Wall says FIFA is breaching basic human rights with its decision.
It read: "All of us at 3 Lions Pride and The Rainbow Wall stand together in condemning the actions of FIFA today. In seeking to censor European FAs and players by forcing them to abandon using the 'OneLove' armband aimed at tackling all forms of discrimination, FIFA are guilty of crushing the basic human rights to freedom of speech and of expression that every single one of us should have without question.
"In doing so, FIFA are also guilty of silencing anti-discrimination work within the game and of giving a platform to hatred.
"This abuse of power by those who have chosen to remain silent for so long is a gross betrayal of trust and cannot be allowed to stand. We have no faith in FIFA, no trust in this World Cup, there is #NoPrideWithoutAll #WeBelong."