Your latest World Cup headlines on Monday, November 21.
Bale at risk of USA yellow card for wearing One Love armband
Wales are locked in talks with FIFA and other football associations amid concerns that Gareth Bale could be booked at kick-off of his side’s World Cup opener against the USA for wearing the One Love armband.
FIFA have urged competing nations not to make political statements during the tournament – with competition rules stating teams could be punished for doing so.
Despite the governing body’s advice, the FAW – along with the English FA – have stated they will defy FIFA’s order by wearing the One Love armband during the Qatar showpiece.
The One Love campaign aims to “promote inclusion and send a message against discrimination of any kind”. The armbands will be worn to promote inclusivity within a country which has laws against same-sex relationships.
But there is genuine fear that captain Bale – the man who would be wearing the armband for Wales – could be yellow carded as soon as Wales’ fixture against the USA gets underway at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday night.
A formal statement on the issue is expected prior to England’s Group B contest with Iran.
England and USA favourites to progress – Page
Rob Page believes England and the United States of America are the favourites to progress from Wales’ World Cup group.
The Red Dragons kick-start their campaign against the USA tonight, with bookmakers having Gregg Berhalter’s side as the slight favourites to emerge victorious at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Nevertheless, head coach Page says there is no pressure on Wales who will compete on the biggest stage of world football for the first time in 64 years when they lock horns with the USA.
“You look at England and USA, and naturally people will talking about them as the top two, and then ourselves and Iran,” said Page. “But we know on our day, and we’ve proven in Nations League against Belgium and against a very good Dutch team that we can more than compete.
“We’re new to the tournament and there might be a few surprises along the way. There’s no pressure on us, we’re going to enjoy it, we’re going to compete and I’ve said to the group, ‘we’re not here to make the numbers up, we’re here because we’ve earned the right to be here, because we’re a good team, and I want to go and show the world how good we are’.”
Wales’ progress is more than just football
Gareth Bale admits Wales’ remarkable progress over the last decade transcends way beyond football.
The Red Dragons have are set to play in their third major tournament in little more than six years when they kick-start their World Cup campaign against the USA.
And Bale believes the whole nation has benefitted from the success of those wearing the red jersey of Wales.
“It is not just about football,” he explained. “It is about the growth of our country: people knowing our history more, people in our own country learning more about the history of where we came from and what happened.
“Even us as players are still learning. Even though we are successful we are hearing more stories because Wales is being spoken about more. Hopefully in the future when you speak to people from other counties they won’t ask where Wales is. They will know. That is an amazing part of our story.”
Moore concerns raised
Wales have raised concerns with referee chiefs over the possibility of Kieffer Moore receiving rough treatment from officials at the World Cup.
The striker has often fallen foul of European referees and has attempted to adapt his game in order to ensure he does not pick up needless bookings.
At Euro 2020, Moore was yellow carded in the tournament opener against Switzerland and famously jumped without using his arms as leverage during the final group fixture against Italy to ensure he did not collect another booking that would see him suspended for the knockout stages.
But Page admits he will never ask Moore to adapt his game. “He is naturally going to pick bookings up, but there is not a nasty bone in his body, I can assure you,” said the head coach.
“He might not look that because he’s a giant of a man. But he never, ever intentionally elbows anybody. It’s just the nature of the size that he is.
“We had a referees’ meeting in the week and we went through the bookings and accidental bookings, and the potential that if you lift up your arms you hit somebody in the face, that can be a potential red card.
“He is at more risk of doing that, purely because of his size. We have raised that point with him. In one game, we had to ask him to jump without using his arms. But you can’t continue to do that. As everyone knows, you need leverage to jump.
“But we are not worried. He’s going to pick up accidental bookings, but if I thought for one minute he was doing it intentionally, then I would be having a word with him and trying to help him change his game. But he is not like that. He’s not that person.”
Ex-England man more concerned by USA
Danny Murphy believes the USA are the biggest threat to England in Group B.
The Three Lions kick-start their tournament against Iran on Monday and are huge favourites to finish top of their pool.
In the group’s other fixture, Wales and the USA lock horns in a bid to get some points on the board before they face Gareth Southgate’s side later on in…