Gareth Southgate reacts to England’s OneLove armband u-turn. England boss Gareth Southgate says the decision not to wear the OneLove rainbow armband was made by the federations – not the players – and insists he is only focused on facing Iran.
Harry Kane had been due to wear the armband as a mark of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, who face imprisonment in Qatar for their sexuality.
However, England and six other participating nations announced this morning that they would no longer wear the armbands through fears of FIFA sanctions.
Asked which armband Kane will be wearing, and why the topic was so important to the squad, Southgate told the BBC shortly before kick-off against Iran: ‘Well a lot of discussions have been going on without me involved because I’ve been focused on the game.
‘We’re wearing the FIFA armband, that was decided by the collective federations overnight I believe.
‘We are in the middle of that. We’re just trying to focus on the game, frankly.’
FIFA threatened to immediately give a yellow card to any players wearing the armband, as the message it displays is considered ‘political’.
A joint statement from the participating football associations made clear their disappointment over the threat but made clear they could no longer commit to wearing the armbands.
‘FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,’ a statement read.
‘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.’