Harry Kane said he will wear a “OneLove” armband despite the threat of a fine and a yellow card at kickoff as a battle escalates between FIFA and various European Football Associations.
Nine nations including Germany, Netherlands and Belgium agreed in September to wear the armband as a symbol of diversity, inclusion and antidiscrimination amid concerns over World Cup hosts Qatar‘s human rights record.
Sources have told ESPN that the English FA along with the others involved wrote to FIFA and UEFA informing them of their intentions. Both organisations do not usually allow teams to make political statements, but UEFA gave dispensation for the armbands to be worn in the their Nations League matches.
FIFA did not provide clarity on their stance and, just one day before the World Cup began, launched their own armbands for all captains to wear promoting social awareness.
The nine nations were ready to accept a fine for making the gesture, but there are now suggestions each captain could receive a yellow card at kickoff in each match.
Presented with this as a possibility, Kane said: “I think we’ve made it clear as a team, as a staff and an organisation that we want to wear the armband. I know the FA are talking to FIFA at the moment and I’m sure by gametime tomorrow we’ll have the decision. I think we’ve made it clear we want to wear it.”
England begin Group C play against Iran on Monday, followed by matches with the United States and Wales.
Asked for his view on the possibility of Kane being booked in such circumstances, England manager Gareth Southgate said: “There’s nothing I can add to what Harry’s said. I know there are some conversations going on.
“I think a number of the European countries have spoken and we’ve made our position clear. So hopefully everything will be resolved before the game.”
Talks are continuing between FIFA and the nations involved. ESPN contacted FIFA to clarify the situation, but a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Southgate confirmed England would take a knee before kickoff in a continuation of a separate antidiscrimination gesture England employed at last year’s delayed Euro 2020 finals.
The Premier League adopted the same gesture before every game prior to this season when it was decided teams would only take a knee before matches with the largest audiences.
Internal conversations between England’s players and staff took place at the team’s Al Wakrah training base on Sunday with Southgate confirming they had decided to carry on.
“We have discussed taking a knee, we feel we should,” Southgate said. “It is what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time.
“Of course, we understand in the Premier League, the clubs have decided to only do that for certain games, big occasions. We feel this is the biggest and we think it is a strong statement that will go around the world for young people in particular to see that inclusivity is very important.”
Later on Sunday, a group of 11 European football associations said it welcomed promises from FIFA of support for migrant labourers in Qatar and the creation of a legacy fund from 2022 World Cup proceeds for what it said were some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The UEFA Working Group on Human and Labour Rights, made up of representatives from the football associations of Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales, said it had met world football’s governing body on Sunday and “can confirm that substantial progress has been made on key issues.”
It said FIFA had confirmed support for a permanent International Labour Organization (ILO) office in Doha that would support and advise migrant workers.
“This fulfils the request we made some time ago for a migrant worker support centre,” UEFA said in a statement. “In addition, we welcome FIFA’s commitment to work with the relevant authorities to ensure that all migrant workers will receive financial compensation in cases where they have not been paid in time or have been injured in any work-related accident.”
The football associations said they had been advised that more than $350 million had been paid out in compensation to workers in Qatar since 2018, in cases mainly dealing with late and non-payment of wages.