Just three hours before England’s match, FIFA announced that England and six other nations would not wear the OneLove armband in Qatar. The players were to wear the armband as a way to highlight their disagreement with Qatar’s beliefs about homosexuality, which considers it illegal.
The U-turn was decided after FIFA threatened to book any captain who decided to wear the pro-LGBTQ+ armband.
England captain Harry Kane said: “We are disappointed. We wanted to use it, that decision was taken out of my hands.”
Meanwhile, Sky News presenter Roy Keane told ITV: “The players could have worn the OneLove armband for the first game and taken their punishment.
“That would have been a great statement, take your yellow card and medicine and move on. You don’t use it for the second game because you don’t want to get suspended.”
He added: “England and Wales should have stuck to their guns and done it.”
Former Rugby Union referee Nigel Owens, who came out as gay in 2007, defended the England and Wales players for not wearing armbands on Newsnight.
Twitter user @reallouisdicko criticized the players saying: “Great job guys. There is no better way to pause…checks notes doing nothing.”
Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire, Mr Owens said: “Thank you for wanting to use it and I think people shouldn’t point fingers at the players, the FAW or the English Football Association.
READ MORE: Too much for England bravery – all it took was a threat of yellow card
“Here there is only one body and it is to blame and it is FIFA at that last minute threatening the players with a yellow card for carrying it.
“It’s totally understandable why the players didn’t use it and there’s no fault on them.”
Soccer expert and former professional soccer player Alex Scott was praised for choosing to wear the armband while presenting her commentary on Qatari television.
As a woman who has not openly declared her sexuality but has had relationships with both men and women, she has been praised as “brave” for her actions that the players did not.
Twitter user @westendhannah said: “Alex Scott has bigger balls than the male players, not surprising, she is in a country where she could be jailed for her sexuality and she is here wearing the armband as she is. We love you Alex, thank you.”
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Comedian Sarah Keyworth added: “This is why queer people hate the performative corporate alliance. The signaling of virtue.
“The rainbow sandwiches and the pride flag toothbrushes. We all know that when silence is at its most lucrative, everyone will keep their mouths shut. Good for you @AlexScott thank you for being so brave.”
Mr Owens noted that while it was a shame the players didn’t wear the armband, he believes it “has highlighted the problem and given it more publicity than it would have had if they had worn the armband.”
He added: “Let’s hope that a lot of good comes out of this and that FIFA takes a hard look at itself… They have certainly let themselves down.”
Another social media user concluded: “FIFA is a shame and the FA should have more courage, shame on them.”
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