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England’s decision not to wear armband shows gesture up for exactly what it is

england rainbow armband

An embarrassing start to the tournament on so many levels.

Reports emerged on Monday morning that England have decided not to support LGBTQ+ rights by wearing the “OneLove” rainbow captain’s armband against Iran in their opening World Cup game against Iran.

Harry Kane was due to wear the rainbow armband, but amid suggestions that he will be booked if he does so, he will no longer wear it, according to reports.

This was a relatively empty gesture in the first place, one that may have helped clear the minds of the players and management, but not one that would have made it any safer to be a gay fan at the World Cup.

It would have been the easiest PR win for England and Harry Kane ever, for him to wear the rainbow armband, and take a yellow card.

One yellow card, to show solidarity with those who are discriminated against. It’s not much, but it would have been at least somewhat of a stand.

But no, the punishment of one yellow card is too great for England’s captain. Meanwhile, the punishment for being gay in Qatar? Jail, or worse.

At least if England (and other countries, Wales included), refuse to wear the armband, it shows the gesture up for exactly what it is. An empty, worthless token.

Rainbow armband not to be worn by England

If these footballers and football teams actually cared about the cause they are supposed to be standing up for, they would welcome a yellow card for speaking out. The (extremely mild) punishment would draw more eyes to the cause. It could wake some people up. It would be World Cup history.

Gareth Southgate has spoken out against all sorts of discrimination and hatred in his press conferences as England manager, and he has been a symbol of a new England that doesn’t bow down to racism or homophobia.

But if his team aren’t willing to take one yellow card to show that they actually care about these causes, his words are empty. They will have meant nothing.

The reason teams could justify playing at the Qatar World Cup in the first place was so that they could take a stand against atrocities and human rights abuses on the biggest stage of all.

With kick-off fast approaching, there is still time to do so. But don’t hold your breath. They will likely do exactly what FIFA want them to, and stick to football.

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