England and Wales had planned to wear their ‘OneLove’ armbands in support of the LGBTQ community in defiance of FIFA and World Cup host Qatar, but relented under threat of a card yellow at the last minute.
The BBC’s Alex Scott, however, did not.
While England striker Harry Kane reneged on his vow to wear his armband on the pitch, Scott wore his on the sidelines.
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Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and displays of support for the LGBTQ community, including wearing the “OneLove” armband, have been made illegal by FIFA.
Just this weekend, England coach Gareth Southgate expressed his determination to continue wearing the armband despite the cultural clash with the Muslim host country.
“It’s what we stand for as a team and what we’ve been doing for a long time,” Southgate said.
“We think this is the biggest (step) and we think this is a strong statement that will go around the world for young people, in particular, to see that inclusivity is very important,” he said. -he adds.
Southgate star player Harry Kane has backed his manager.
“We made it clear as a team, staff and organization that we wanted to wear the armband. I know the FA are talking to FIFA, and by the time the game comes they will have made their decision,” Kane said, according to the Daily mail.
However, the tension reached a tipping point after FIFA threatened to increase the penalty for wearing the armband. Initially, international football’s governing body had threatened to simply fine teams for wearing the armband. However, after strong public stances in favor of the groups were taken by England, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Wales, FIFA upped the ante by also promising ” sporting penalties. These penalties would include yellow cards, bookings, etc.
In light of the increased risk of penalties that could impact his side’s play on the pitch, Southgate’s strong position began to weaken.
“A lot of talk [were held] without me because I focused on the game,” he said. “We’re wearing the Fifa armband decided by the collective federations overnight, I believe – we’re in the middle of it all but really trying to focus on the game, frankly.”
Shortly after the comments, several European football associations issued a joint statement bowing to pressure from FIFA.
“We cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in matches,” the statement read.
On Saturday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino tried to sympathize with the LGBTQ community, migrant workers and others at the center of controversy surrounding his organisation’s decision to allow Qatar to host the World Cup .
“Today I have strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel migrant worker,” said the FIFA boss in a long speech ahead of the tournament’s first game.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the West was unable to “learn moral lessons” in Qatar, adding that European nations should instead apologize for their own history.
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Infantino argued that the West was not in a position to pass judgment on the morality of a country like Qatar.
“We have received many lessons from Europeans and the Western world. I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years in the world, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons… This one-sided moral lesson is nothing but hypocrisy. I wonder why no one recognizes the progress made here since 2016,” he said.
“If Europe really cares about the fate of these people, it can create legal channels – as Qatar has done – where a number of them [migrant] workers can come to Europe to work. Give them a future, some hope,” he added.
Scott blasted Infantino after trying to identify with the affected groups.
“I’m trying to understand, you brought a World Cup here and I’m trying to understand a culture,” Scott said.
“I’m trying to understand everything – the whole context of what’s going on and what the FIFA President said yesterday is confusing and absolutely bizarre to me. How do you say ‘today I’m a migrant worker’? No, you are not and you never will be.