England’s Harry Kane may abandon ‘OneLove’ armband over booking fear

  • England seeking clarity on how referees will respond in Qatar
  • Southgate’s team will take knee before Iran game at World Cup

England’s players will take the knee before the start of their game against Iran on Monday but Harry Kane must decide whether to support LGBTQ+ rights by wearing the “OneLove” rainbow captain’s armband amid fears that the gesture could earn an instant booking.

In the latest farcical development to grip the World Cup a potential row is brewing after it was suggested that referees could be left with no option but to caution captains who wear the “OneLove” armband in Qatar. Fifa has asked that all captains wear a different armband on each match day, promoting social messages such as “Football unites the world”, “Share the meal” and “Bring the moves”. It could even send an official into dressing rooms before matches to remove any “OneLove” armbands.

England and Wales had planned to defy Fifa’s request by wearing the rainbow armband. The Football Association wrote to the game’s governing body about its plans in September but received no response. The FA had indicated it would be prepared to receive a fine and has been seeking clarification over whether Kane could start the game on a booking if the England captain dons the armband against Iran, but without a response from the governing body.

The suggestion has been made to the FA that because there is no precedent Fifa could have a free hand in selecting the punishment for a breach of equipment regulations. The FA is hoping for a final decision from Fifa on Monday morning to give the players as much time as possible to concentrate on preparing for the match. Fifa has been approached for comment.

Kane stressed his desire to wear the armband before England face Iran in their opening game in Group B. “We’ve made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband,” the striker said. “I know the FA are talking to Fifa at the moment and I’m sure by game time tomorrow they will have their decision. I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it.”

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Gareth Southgate echoed those comments. “I know there are conversations going on,” the England head coach said. “I think a number of European countries have spoken. We’ve made our position clear. Hopefully everything will be resolved before the game.”

Wales are continuing to plan for Gareth Bale to wear the rainbow armband against USA on Monday and the president of the German football federation (DFB), Bernd Neuendorf, has said Germany are prepared to be fined if Manuel Neuer wears it against Japan on Wednesday. But the DFB is concerned that Neuer could be booked. Two cautions in different matches lead to a suspension from the next game, although single yellow cards are wiped after the quarter-finals.

Virgil van Dijk is worried about the consequences of wearing the armband when the Netherlands face Senegal on Monday. “I will wear the one love armband,” the Netherlands captain said. “Nothing changed from our point of view. If I will get a yellow card for wearing it, then we would have to discuss it because I don’t like to play while being on a yellow.”

Van Dijk is expected to wear two armbands, also taking the field with the official Fifa one. England’s players will demonstrate their opposition to discrimination by taking the knee before kick-off. The squad discussed the issue before training on Sunday.

“We feel we should,” Southgate said. “We think it’s a strong statement that will go around the world, especially for young people, that inclusivity is important.”


Jacob Steinberg in Doha

The GuardianTramp

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