Uk News Gareth Southgate says England must 'focus on football' after backing down in armband row United Kingdom news
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England manager Gareth Southgate insists his side must “focus on football” following their late U-turn on wearing the “One Love” armband in Qatar after pressure from Fifa.In September, the Football Association had announced plans for England captain Harry Kane to join a group of 10 national team captains, including Wales skipper Gareth Bale, in supporting the OneLove campaign as part of their efforts to highlight the oppression of the LGBT+ community in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.England had expected to be handed a fine for their actions, which breach Fifa’s rules on kit, and said they were happy to pay it.But just 24 hours before their opening game against Iran, the World Cup organisers indicated that if captains continued with the plan, they would be booked as soon as the game started, according to a joint statement issued by England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.More from Football'No beer, no point': England fans swerve booze-free Fifa fan park as only 200 watch Iran win21 November, 2022England injury news with the latest updates on Maguire, Kane, Maddison and others at World Cup21 November, 2022When the World Cup 2022 final is, and England's path to glory explained21 November, 2022England went on to win their World Cup opener 6-2 against Iran, and with Kane sporting Fifa’s approved “No Discrimination” armband, Southgate admitted he understood the governing body’s decision before adding “we can’t be involved in that now”.“It’s not something the players or myself have been involved with over the last 24 hours. Those discussions have been ongoing between several European nations and Fifa,” Southgate told reporters.“I actually do understand Fifa’s situation, in that you can set a precedent and it’s very difficult then, where do you draw the line?“In an ideal world, that would have been a much clearer situation earlier, but it’s not something that has been a distraction for us because we had to focus on the football.“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, we’re 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, so therefore we should channel our energies in the right directions.”When it came to wearing OneLove arm bands Harry Kane and England’s principled stand took a tumble (Photo: Richard Sellers/Getty)The joint statement earlier on Monday revealed why England and Wales were among the nations unwilling to pursue with wearing the OneLove armband.“Fifa has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the statement said.“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 OneLove 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.”Ahead of England’s match against Iran, BBC commentator Alex Scott wore the armband pitchside at the Khalifa International Stadium. See moreAlex Scott you legend pic.twitter.com/Tvzei6sh5s— Ali Tweedale (@alitweedale) November 21, 2022The Football Supporters’ Association said it felt “betrayed” by Fifa’s inflexibility. “To paraphrase Fifa president Gianni Infantino – today LGBT+ football supporters and their allies will feel angry,” an FSA statement said.“Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance.“Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup.“Since 2010 we have been raising questions about the suitability of Qatar as a World Cup host. Everyone could see this coming and it’s astonishing that, on the morning of England’s World Cup opener, Fifa are trying to censor players for sharing a positive message.” Analysis: A weak and humiliating climbdown England manager Garth Southgate at a press conference in Doha (Photo: Getty)By Sam Cunningham, i’s chief football correspondent in Doha So Fifa called England’s bluff and they crumpled like a house of cards in a desert sandstorm.
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. How humiliating this is, for the English FA and the others, to have already so meekly fought for their cause, only to be told that wasn’t happening either. And that if you wanted to die on that hill at the 2022 World Cup there’s up to seven yellow cards coming your way. Nooooo… not seven! We couldn’t possibly take seven yellow cards! Fifa then waited until the day of England’s opening game against Iran to confirm that those yellow cards would be flying if Kane had the audacity to wear a completely made up symbol that is sort of like a rainbow but isn’t a rainbow. With the minutes ticking down to kick-off, it gave them no time to come up with a clever solution, other than to fold. “We are very frustrated by the Fifa decision,” the joint statement said. So frustrated that you’re going to… do exactly what they say? There are other words for that, which aren’t “frustrated”. And I know, of course, this isn’t only on England. They made the decision alongside the FAs of Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But they didn’t have to follow everyone else. They didn’t have to see which way the wind was blowing then leap onto a hand glider and let their morals be swept away. Read Sam’s analysis in full here.
Why France chose not to wear OneLove armbandFrance had already opted against wearing the OneLove armband, with captain Hugo Lloris explaining his reasoning last week.“Fifa is organising this competition, it is up to them to put in regulatory framework,” the Tottenham goalkeeper said.“Us as players are here to play football and represent as best we can on a sporting front. I would prefer to stay in my box and play. There are many different causes that should be supported and are commendable, but it is up to Fifa to take decisions on their competition.”Meanwhile, although Denmark were part of the OneLove U-turn on Monday, the nation will still be sporting their “toned down” kits in Qatar.Denmark will play in plain kits in Qatar (Photos: Hummel Sport/Instagram)Sportswear brand Hummel released three monochrome Denmark kits in protest against Qatar’s human rights record.As well as releasing home and away kits in Denmark’s traditional red and white colours, Hummel produced a third strip in all black, the “colour of mourning” to highlight Qatar’s “treatment of migrant workers”.‘Difficult for players like Harry Kane’The host of BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast, Jack Murley, highlighted how the OneLove U-turn was the latest instance of Fifa backtracking in Qatar – having changed their decision on selling alcohol within stadium perimeters on Friday.“If you’re Harry Kane and you can risk a booking and miss the World Cup final by wearing this armband, you can see why he wouldn’t necessarily do it. The flip side to that is what’s the point of a protest if it doesn’t actually make a splash; if there are no stakes to it?” Murley said on BBC Radio 5 Live.“It’s not as if players do not have power and influence in this situation, but it’s a difficult one to ask them to exert on the biggest stage of their lives.“The question really should be, why have they been put in this situation on the day of the game? Fifa has known for months and months they wanted to wear this armband. Why are we only having this conversation now?“We’ve now got to a point where Fifa has spent years saying this World Cup is for everyone. It’s now essentially said that if you wear an armband symbolising that it’s OK to be gay, you’ll get booked.”Campaign group Kick It Out were also critical of Fifa. “We are disappointed that Fifa are intent on imposing sanctions on European nations who choose to wear the ‘One Love’ armband, preventing teams from sending a strong statement to the world that diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the game,” it said.“This decision continues to highlight Fifa’s failure to address concerns of both human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community in the build-up to this tournament.“Players and fans should not have had to bear the burden of Fifa’s mistakes and we will continue to support Gareth Southgate, and his team, as they look to explore other ways to support inclusion in football.“Football should be a game for everyone and Kick It Out continue to stand with the LGBTQ+ community in solidarity.”
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