England To Take a Knee Before Iran Opener

England will take a knee before their World Cup opener against Iran, Southgate has confirmed.

England made the gesture against racism and inequality in 33 straight matches when football returned after the Covid-19 shutdown.

England did not take a knee in September’s fixtures but they will make the gesture in Monday’s Group B opener and beyond at the World Cup.

“We have discussed taking the knee,” Southgate said. “We feel we should. It’s what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time.

“Of course, we understand in the Premier League that clubs have decided to only do that for certain games, big occasions, we feel this is the biggest.

“We think it is a strong statement to go around the world for young people in particular to see that inclusivity is very important.”

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

Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale are among the seven captains that will wear the OneLove armband, along with the skippers of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. The campaign is designed to highlight discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar and concerns over the welfare of migrant labour.

France had also been expected to participate, but captain Hugo Lloris has decided against taking part, in order to “show respect to Qatar”.

Fifa launched their own armband campaign on Saturday (19 November), in partnership with United Nations agencies, with different messages prepared for each round. Messages include “#SaveThePlanet”, “#NoDiscrimination” and “#FootballUnitesTheWorld”, which will be worn during the first round of group games.

Fifa have instructed all competing nations to wear their armband, but England’s Football Association (FA) and the Football Association of Wales are understood to be pressing ahead with the OneLove campaign regardless.

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

Mark Bullingham, the FA’s chief executive, has previously said England are prepared run the risk of being fined by world football’s governing body. It is unclear whether Fifa will follow through on their threats as yet.

Source: The Independent, Sky sports

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