Players are being ‘controlled’ at Qatar World Cup, says Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen



“If you make a statement by wearing the armband that would mean punishing yourself,” the former Tottenham centre-back said in a press conference. “I don’t feel comfortable, and that is telling enough. We are put on the spot, and I am afraid that if I say something about this, I might not be able to play and that is a situation I have never, ever experienced in football, and I hope I will never, ever have to experience again because it is not good.

“We are being controlled. I don’t like making political statements. We are here to play football, and if we can’t even do that because we are making a statement and just saying normal things, like ‘no to discrimination’ or ‘no to racism’, and you cannot say that, then hey, then what?”

Belgium begin their Group F campaign against Canada on Wednesday evening.

Vertonghen added: “I shouldn’t be saying anything about it because (on Wednesday) I want to appear for the kick-off at 10 o’clock so I will leave it at that, and that says enough.”

Fifa has meanwhile ordered Belgium to remove the word ‘love’ from the collar of their white away shirts due to a commercial conflict of interest.

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