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England have decided not to wear the One Love rainbow armbands for their opening World Cup clash against Iran after being warned by FIFA that they'd face sanctions.
A joint statement was released on behalf England, Wales, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark, insisting they were "very frustrated" by FIFA's stance which they described as "unprecedented".
"FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," the statement read. "As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.
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"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."
What do you make of England's decision? Let us know in the comments section below.
England and eight other teams have initially planned to wear the armbands as an equality gesture for the LGBT+ community, but the Three Lions have backed down after being told players face bookings and even bans for doing so.
England skipper Harry Kane stressed his desire to wear the armband ahead of the Iran clash, telling reporters: “We’ve made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband.
"I know the FA are talking to FIFA at the moment and I’m sure by game time tomorrow they will have their decision. I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it."
Manager Gareth Southgate added: "I know there are some conversations going on. A number of the European countries have spoken. We have made our position clear, so hopefully everything will be resolved before the game."
FIFA announced on Monday that their 'No Discrimination' campaign, which was due to come into effect from the quarter-final stage of the World Cup, will be brought forward so all 32 teams will have the opportunity to take part in it.
Special armbands will be provided to captains as part of the campaign, which is understood to be part of the reason why FIFA are against the One Love armbands.
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