England thrashed Iran 6-2, at the Qatar World Cup opening game and it was a game with much excitement on the pitch. Off it, there was plenty to talk about as well and one of them includes Harry Kane expressing his disappointment after he was unable to wear a rainbow OneLove anti-discrimination armband during the game.
In a country (Qatar) that criminalizes same-sex relationships, the band, which features the rainbow colors associated with the Pride flag, was meant to make a positive message.
England were one of the seven nations that planned to support diversity and inclusion by having the armband worn during competitive matches. Due to FIFA threatening sporting sanctions, such as a yellow card, they chose not to. A little under 24 hours before England’s opening encounter against Iran, the decision was made.
Instead, Kane wore FIFA’s “No Discrimination” armband after the committee’s own campaign for the finals in Qatar was launched on Saturday. This armband is not rainbow-colored.
After receiving permission from the participating countries, the Tottenham striker wore the OneLove armband for this season’s UEFA matches, although he was unable to do so at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Kane voiced his displeasure. “I said we wanted to wear it yesterday. Today, that choice was stripped from my control. I arrived at the stadium wearing the armband I prefer to wear, and I was informed that I had to wear that one instead (the official FIFA one)”.
“We as players have no influence over it. The FA and FIFA will undoubtedly continue their conversations, but tonight we concentrated on the game and achieved an excellent performance”.
After the Three Lions took a knee ahead of their match against Iran, Kane promised that England would keep trying their best to speak out against injustice.
You’ve seen how we’ve taken a stand over the past five years, and we’ll keep doing that as much as we can, he said.
“We took the knee today as well but sometimes these decisions aren’t up to us and that’s the bottom line”.
The OneLove armband was intended to be worn by captains of other nations, notably Wale’s Gareth Bale. It is regarded as a demonstration of prejudice against members of the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. The host nation has faced criticism for its anti-homosexuality laws.
“The armband, it’s not something the players or myself have been involved with over the last 24 hours,” England manager Gareth Southgate said following the win.
Although he acknowledged FIFA’s position on the matter, manager Gareth Southgate claimed that his players’ decision to take a knee prior to the start of the game will not be deterred by the controversy.
These conversations have been going on between FIFA and a number of European countries.
“I honestly do see FIFA’s predicament, in that you may set a precedent, and then it’s very tough to know where to draw the line,”
The issue would have been much clearer earlier in an ideal world, but since we had to concentrate on the game, as I mentioned yesterday, it hasn’t been a distraction for us.
“There’s so much else going on. We can’t be involved in that now, we’ve got to concentrate on performances, concentrate on our training. Especially the players, it’s not for them to have to deal with that. “People know what we stand for, people know this group of players is taking the knee because it’s something we feel we can make a difference with, and there are some things that I’m not sure we’re going to be able to make a difference with and therefore we should channel our energies in the right directions.”