World Cup: Players 'should have worn the armbands' says Keane
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Roy Keane has slammed the England captain Harry Kane for his U-turn on wearing the “OneLove” armband in favour of a FIFA-approved one, branding the move a “big mistake”. Both Mr Kane and his Welsh counterpart Gareth Bale had intended to wear the rainbow-coloured “OneLove” captain’s band in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community but decided at the last minute to get rid of it after pressure from FIFA and the English and Welsh football associations. FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino had stated before the game that there were “clear regulations on armbands”, effectively banning the use of the rainbow-coloured “OneLove” armband to placate the Qatari government, who view homosexuality as a criminal act punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Mark Pougatch asked: “Did it put England and Wales in a difficult position, in the sense they wanted to stage a protest but they did not want to risk a major player potentially being suspended for a knockout game, or a third game, for something they did in the opening game?”
Mr Keane said: “I think the players could have done it for the first game and taken the punishment, whatever that might have been.
“Kane, obviously you are risking him getting a yellow card but that would have been a great statement.
“Do it for the first game. If you get the yellow card, what a message that would have been from Kane or Bale. Take your medicine and then the next game you move on.
“You do not wear it the next game because you do not want to be suspended, but I think it was a big mistake.
“I think both players, we’re talking just about England and Wales here, should have stuck to their guns and done it, whatever the pressure from outside or within their own associations. Have the belief and go with it.”
England, Wales and five other nations, including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, had contacted FIFA in September to say they planned to wear the rainbow-coloured armbands.
But the seven federations heard nothing from FIFA until Sunday evening, when the call was made to wear FIFA-issued black armbands with the word “No discrimination” written across them instead.
Following the decision, the seven federations released a joint statement saying they were “prepared to pay fines” for wearing the OneLove armbands but were not willing to risk their players being suspended.
The statement read: “Fifa has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. 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 One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.”
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They added: “Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”
During the Wales fixture against the USA, Laura McAllister, a gay woman and past Fifa Council candidate, said she was told to take off her rainbow-coloured hat due to its association with the LGBTQ+ community.
Video footage taken of the incident appears to show officers telling her to remove the hat, after which she smuggled it in.
Meanwhile, former England international Alex Scott ignored the FIFA ban by wearing one of the OneLove armbands during her broadcast for the BBC.
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