Although England’s players will be taking the knee before the start of their game against Iran today, Harry Kane will not be wearing the OneLove captain’s armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community amid fears of sporting sanctions.
Three Lions captain Harry Kane was due to wear the rainbow armband to promote diversity and inclusion in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised, but the Football Association confirmed in a statement that they had backed down with Kane potentially set to be booked before the game even got underway.
In a joint statement, the FAs of England, Wales Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland – who had all been due to wear the armbands – said: “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.”
“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.”
Kane had expressed 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.”
England manager Gareth Southgate echoed those comments. “I know there are conversations going on,” the 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.”