Jamie Carragher believes it would be ‘weak’ of England and the FA to back down on their commitment for Harry Kane to wear the OneLove captain’s armband.
The England team were one of nine to come together in deciding to wear the distinctive OneLove armbands during matches in a bid to support inclusivity and LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar, a country that prohibits same-sex marriage. FIFA have since sought to discourage the move with their own campaign, expecting teams to abide by their new armbands, which will display messages such as “#ProtectChildren” “#ShareTheMeal”, “#FootballForSchools” and “#NoDiscrimination”.
The FA and FIFA are now in the midst of a row just hours before Gareth Southgate’s side kick off their campaign against Iran this afternoon (Monday, November 21), with reports that England may back down from donning the armband after threats that Kane could be instantly booked for entering the field of play with the armband – a move that former Reds captain Carragher thinks would be ‘weak’.
“He has to wear it,” Carragher, who won 38 caps for England, told Sky Sports. “England have made a big noise about the fact that Harry Kane is going to wear this, it’s the protest in some way to the World Cup being in Qatar and the situation – human rights, everything that goes on that people have criticised – this is England’s way of showing that they don’t agree with that.
“They can’t pull out now. The fact that he will get a yellow card only strengthens the campaign. For England to pull out and not do that because of a yellow card to Harry Kane would be weak. I think it should make them more determined.”
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham this morning (Monday, November 21) hinted that the FA may back down from their commitment to don the armband, telling BBC Radio 4: “There are discussions that are carrying on. We are working through those issues right now. It is true to say that Fifa did indicated yesterday that there could be sporting sanctions, that’s obviously something that we have to work through. We have been clear that we want to wear the armband. It is important to us. But equally we need to work through all of the discussions right now and see where we end up. Is it a risk for Kane to wear the armband? That’s what we’re working through right now.
“We’ve had meetings this morning with Fifa are there are discussions carrying on. As I’ve said we are very keen to wear the armband, we want to do it but obviously we would need to consider the implications. Normally in this kind of situation there would be a fine that would get paid and we’ve always said we’d be very happy to do that. Well, happy might be the wrong word but we’d be prepared to pay the fine because we think it’s important to show our support for inclusion. If the sporting sanctions threat is real then we need to look at that, we need to step back and work out if there is another way in which we can show out values.”
On Monday, Liverpool defender and Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk confirmed his intention to wear the armband despite the threats, but added: “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.”
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