I’m disappointed but not surprised to hear that it took the day of England and Wales first World Cup fixtures to be told their captains would be booked if they wore the ‘One Love’ Armband.
The FA first wrote to FIFA in September to get their point of view, and yet didn’t get a response till they arrived in Qatar.
Just like FIFA waited for tourists to arrive to tell them they wouldn’t be able to purchase alcohol inside stadiums, contradicting promises made in the last decade.
Forget months, all nations had since 2010 to plan how they would tackle a tournament being held in nation which contradicts their values.
As Jurgen Klopp pointed out it should never have been left to players, managers or pundits to make a political stance.
If they truly wanted too, governments and Royalty could have stepped in and led by example.
Seven European Associations were adamant their skippers would wear the ‘One Love Armband’ which promotes diversity and inclusion despite the threat of fines.
By having a Harry Kane publicly insist he would wear the armband, and then back down due to the consequence of a yellow card is depressing.
Again, I stress 7 players of 7 football teams shouldn’t be in this position, but members of UEFA had 12 years to decide what they were or were not comfortable with. When they originally put their action plan is place, surely, they knew a yellow card was an option?
It’s been a long-standing FIFA rule that teams should not make a political stance without their consent.
So, the seven associations (Including the FA) are not innocent here.
Up to the 11th hour they were defiant they would fly the flag for equality, only to hurriedly change that stance once it got to game day where the attention will be on the pitch.
The timing is not a coincidence.
I would have loved the 7 nations statement to be different. In an ideal world, 7 captains get sent off for wearing an armband which would have spread awareness and put spotlight on FIFA more than anything else.
It’s easy for me to tell any captain to wear the One Love Armband and get sent off.
That would be unfair to ask any player to sacrifice their own dream, when those in higher power in our country didn’t.
I do judge those 7 nations for then agreeing to wear FIFA’s own discrimination arm band, when they know you are wearing nothing more than a token gesture, something that means nothing.
Say it out loud.
FIFA claim the game is for everyone, yet host a World Cup where certain groups don’t feel safe travelling to.
They then threaten sanctions on anyone promoting diversity and inclusion, even though they insist Qatar welcomes everyone.
Then they ask the same associations they warned not to wear armbands to promote diversity to wear their own version just to tick a PR box.
I have always said zero tolerance means zero tolerance.
Wouldn’t it have been great if every captain wore the ‘One Love Armband’. Would FIFA really have a tournament where every skipper is sent off?
Would they really upset sponsors by banning Messi and Ronaldo?
If they did: What a message that would have sent to the world.
What a discussion that would have promoted.
I accept though that is an idealistic and a romantic notion from me.
The reality …. the cruel reality ….is Qatar 2022.
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