Sunday, November 27, 2022

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England will kneel ahead of World Cup match against Iran, Southgate says

England manager Gareth Southgate has announced his side will take a knee ahead of Monday’s World Cup opener against Iran.

Premier League footballers first carried out the anti-racism gesture in 2020 and England did the same in subsequent internationals.

And Southgate has confirmed the Three Lions will do the same at the World Cup in Qatar, starting with the Group B game against Iran on Monday (November 21).

“We talked about taking the knee and we think we should do it,” the former England midfielder, 52, said at a press conference on Sunday (November 20).

“That’s what we stand for as a team and have done for a long time.

“We think it’s a powerful statement that will go around the world, especially for young people, to see that inclusion is very important.”

England captain Harry Kane will also wear a OneLove armband at the World Cup, contradicting Fifa and the governing body’s own social awareness campaign.

Gareth Bale of Kane and Wales is among the seven captains who will wear the OneLove armband, along with skippers from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. The campaign aims to highlight discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar and concern for the welfare of migrant workers.

France had also been expected to attend, but captain Hugo Lloris has decided not to take part to “show respect for Qatar”.

Fifa launched its own wristband campaign on Saturday (November 19) in cooperation with the United Nations agencies, with different messages prepared for each round. Messages include “#SaveThePlanet”, “#NoDiscrimination” and “#FootballUnitesTheWorld” worn during the first round of group matches.

Fifa has instructed all competing nations to wear their armband, but the English Football Association (FA) and the Football Association of Wales are said to be pushing the OneLove campaign anyway.

“We respect Fifa’s request but we are committed to wearing our OneLove armbands at this World Cup,” said an FA source.

Mark Bullingham, the FA chief executive, previously said England were willing to take the risk of being fined by world football’s governing body. It is still unclear whether Fifa will carry out its threats.

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