England have reserved the right to make a protest gesture against discrimination later in the World Cup, but are taking a tunnel vision approach to tonight’s draw against the United States.
The FA backed out of the OneLove bracelet dispute with FIFA ahead of the opening game against Iran when they were threatened with sporting sanctions, including a pre-kick-off yellow card for captain Harry Kane.
Germany, who also U-turned on the LGBTQ support armband, posed for their team photo against Japan with their hands over their mouths to signal they felt they were being muzzled by the governing body, but England will not do the same for a gesture of protest tonight.
“We have discussed it as a group and we will act when we feel it is appropriate to do so,” defender Harry Maguire said.
“We are totally focused on football, but I am sure that we will have conversations throughout the tournament.”
England manager Gareth Southgate accepts that his stance may sound halfhearted, but says football must come first.
“We want to support the LGBTQ community in particular and recognize that many of those people are not here with us and we wanted them here with us. But we could also rush into doing things that don’t land well and don’t really make any difference and take a lot of time and energy away from where we need to be right now,” he said.
“I feel very comfortable with what I represent and the way I deal with people every day of my life is more important than a statement that may or may not go down well.
“Of course, there’s a moment here where you hope to highlight things, but the fact that we’re still talking about it does.”
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