Skip to content

England to take a knee before World Cup opener against Iran as James Maddison ruled out with injury

England to play Iran, USA and Wales in World Cup Group B in Qatar; Gareth Southgate's side to take a knee ahead of Monday's opener against Iran; James Maddison and Kyle Walker to miss Iran game; England will aim to build on semi-final run at Russia 2018 and runners-up finish at Euro 2020

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

England manager Gareth Southgate gives an injury update on the team who will face Iran in the World Cup and confirms they will take a knee as a 'strong statement'.

England will take a knee before their World Cup opener against Iran, manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed.

England made the gesture against racism and inequality in 33 straight matches after football returned after the Covid-19 shutdown.

England did not take a knee in September's fixtures but they will make the gesture in Monday's Group B opener at the Khalifa International Stadium against Iran and beyond at the World Cup.

"We have discussed taking the knee," Southgate said. "We feel we should. It's what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time.

"Of course, we understand in the Premier League that clubs have decided to only do that for certain games, big occasions, we feel this is the biggest.

"We think it is a strong statement to go around the world for young people in particular to see that inclusivity is very important."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Premier League players took a knee for two consecutive weekends in October to highlight racial injustice

Premier League captains decided ahead of the start of this season to use specific moments to take a knee rather than making the gesture at every match.

Also See:

The teams agreed to perform the act ahead of the opening round, dedicated 'No Room For Racism' matches in October and March, on Boxing Day and the final round, as well as the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals.

Maddison, Walker out of Iran match

James Maddison and Kyle Walker will miss England's opener but all other players are set to be available for Southgate.

James Maddison last played for England in 2019

Walker is still recovering from groin surgery, while Maddison has yet to train since arriving in Qatar after picking up a knee problem.

"Kyle Walker is a little bit short for this game but is progressing really well. We are ahead of where we thought he might be at this point," Southgate said.

"James hasn't been able to train since we arrived so he will not be able to make the game tomorrow."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Cricketers Joe Root and Jofra Archer believe England's football team have a good chance of winning the World Cup in Qatar.

Southgate continued: "Our challenge is to give our supporters a tournament that's memorable. We have taken them on fantastic journeys in our lives to tournaments.

"Our country is also going through a difficult spell - not the same as some of the other countries around the world.

"But we're in an economic recession and life has been difficult for a lot of our people so we want them to enjoy their football and have a journey with our team that brings some real happiness."

Will Harry Kane wear 'One Love' armband?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Both Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate made it clear that the England team will wear the OneLove arm band in the World Cup, despite risk of fine.

Confusion surrounds whether or not England captain Harry Kane will wear the 'One Love' armband against Iran. Talks went on late into the evening in Qatar to try and come up with a compromise agreement.

The FA is under pressure to drop the 'One Love' armband, which is designed to send out a strong message against discrimination and show support for LGBTQ+ rights.

FIFA has still not given permission for Kane to wear the armband and launched its own armbands on Saturday with messages such as "Football Unites the World" and "Save The Planet" but none incorporate a rainbow design.

The FA has said Kane will wear the 'One Love' armband and it will pay any fines if it is not authorised by FIFA.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ahead of Wales' first game of the World Cup against USA on Monday, the FAW are fully behind Gareth Bale wearing the One Love captain's armband.

Speaking ahead of the game against Iran, Kane insisted England have made their desires over wearing the 'One Love' rainbow armband clear.

"I feel we've made it clear as a team and as an organisation that we want to wear the armband," Kane said.

"I know the FA are talking to FIFA and I'm sure by game time tomorrow they will have a decision. But I think we have made it clear that we want to wear it."

Kane: England hungry for success

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Harry Kane says getting the Golden Boot during the World Cup would be a 'great thing to achieve' and that it would also be an honour to break Wayne Rooney's record of scoring the most goals for England being only two goals behind.

Kane also said that England go into the tournament in Qatar hungry for success.

"Whenever you go through a spell with club or country and when you haven't won for a little while, you're always that little bit more hungry to turn that around," he said.

"We've had some difficult games in that period, we've played some really good teams and we did have some decent draws away from home, but ultimately we want to be winning games and the feeling of winning games is important.

"We've gone into a major tournament with that hunger. Iran are going to be really difficult, we know every game, every tournament will be difficult.

"But of course we back ourselves against any team and we know if we get it right tomorrow afternoon then we have a really good chance of winning. It's down to us, we've done the preparation, it was a quick turnaround but we're looking forward to the tournament starting."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Whilst at the Abu Dhabi GP on Sunday, former Manchester United captain Patrice Evra and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola give their thoughts ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

Southgate added: "We recognise the quality of the opposition. The group is very tight in terms of the world rankings so it's the hardest and at the beginning everyone has optimism and hope, so always the margins are close in the opening matches.

"We've navigated that well in our last two tournaments but both games were really tight and everybody wants to win the first game.

"The objective is to get out of the group, however you manage to do that, and that's our first objective."

Queiroz: England are 'very, very dangerous'

Carlos Queiroz has returned as Iran's head coach for a second spell in charge (AP Photo)

Carlos Queiroz - Sir Alex Ferguson's former assistant manager at Manchester United - is coaching Iran at a third World Cup finals and has been impressed by England.

"This new generation that Gareth Southgate is bringing for the national team in my opinion is probably the most competitive English national team since 1966 that I had the opportunity to see," the Portuguese said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Paul Merson and Clinton Morrison explain their starting 11s for England's opening game of the World Cup against Iran.

"I remember that team very well but this team is very, very functional, very practical, very realistic.

"I work with the generation of Rio (Ferdinand), Paul Scholes, David Beckham, all those guys.

"But this national team is really, really different because they make a realistic approach to any single game, which makes them very, very dangerous."

2022 World Cup draw

  • Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
  • Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
  • Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
  • Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
  • Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
  • Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
  • Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
  • Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
Super 6 Activates International Mode!
Super 6 Activates International Mode!

Super 6 is going International! Could you win £100,000 for free? Entries by 1pm Monday.

Around Sky