The England squad opens the politically-charged World Cup with a kneel – after withdrawing amid backlash from FIFA over the OneLove armband
- England started their World Cup campaign at 13:00 UK time against Iran
- The team all took the knee after being banned from using rainbow bracelets
- England and eight other teams planned to wear an armband as a gesture of equality
England’s stars took a knee at the start of their World Cup campaign – hours after they were banned from wearing LGBT rainbow armbands.
Captain Harry Kane led the gesture just before the 1pm kick-off against Iran in Qatar.
It’s shaping up to be one of the most political World Cups of all time, with a number of controversies already haunting the competition.
The Three Lions were denied a clear penalty just three minutes into play when Harry Maguire was clearly dragged into the box. Maguire then headed against the bar.
Thousands of Three Lions supporters are at Doha’s Khalifa Stadium, including the players’ WAGs and David Beckham’s, while millions at home, at work or in deserted high street pubs across the UK watch as people watch for the game settle down at 1 p.m.
England took their knee at the start of their first World Cup season against Iran in one of the most politically charged games in English football history after a dispute over Harry Kane wearing a rainbow captain’s armband, which fell under pressure from FIFA was left.
Harry Kane kneels before kick-off in an anti-racism stance at the start of the game
Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Harry Maguire also lowered themselves onto the pitch to take a knee before the start of the game against Iran
Kane wore the official FIFA No Discrimination armband after removing his England jacket after the national anthems. The rainbow armband was expected to be worn but the threat of booking prevented this
Kane looked serious as he led the team onto the field. The England captain did not wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband after the threat of a yellow card proved too risky for the FA.
Alan Shearer said today Kane was placed in an impossible position ahead of one of the biggest games of his career, but added he would likely have worn the armband himself.
Kane wore the official FIFA No Discrimination armband after removing his England jacket after the national anthems.
Loud whistling greeted the Iranian anthem, with the entire Iranian team choosing not to sing.
Harry Kane has already been pictured wearing the OneLove armband at training in Qatar ahead of England’s game against Iran
Captain Harry Kane has been vocal in support of wearing the armband and was spotted wearing it at training on Sunday
Criticism erupted on social media after the FA announced the U-turn on the armband
The whole England team then took the knee and Harry Kane seemed to raise his fist – but the Iranians didn’t cooperate.
Previously, the FA’s decision to ask Kane not to wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband for England’s World Cup opener was branded spineless.
The armband is a show of solidarity for the LGBT+ community and captain Kane has said he will wear it for the 1pm kick-off. Homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar.
But FIFA has strict rules on the attire that can be worn by players and the armband is not allowed under the code.
It meant Kane would have faced an instant booking if he had walked out with the ‘OneLove’ tape this afternoon.
If he had worn it again in the second game, the skipper could have been hit with another yellow, which would have automatically suspended him for the third game.
In a statement, the Football Association said: “We have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armband at FIFA World Cup matches.
“We cannot put our players in a situation where they are cautioned or even forced to leave the field.”
Minutes after the announcement, “spineless” started trending on Twitter. One fan said: “The FA shouldn’t buckle under the pressure.
Another said: “Predictably, it’s the spineless FA who have withered at the first sign of resistance.”
Holland planned to wear them too, but announced today that it would not be wearing the ribbon.