FIFA’s Kane threat comes to light after England’s armband U-turn

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Harry Kane and six other World Cup captains would have been barred from entering the pitch wearing ‘OneLove’ pro-LGBTQ+ armbands, according to reports. Skippers from seven European nations planned to wear the armbands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, who face imprisonment in Qatar. 

England striker Kane planned to wear the armband throughout the World Cup campaign but was warned of ‘sporting sanctions’ on the eve of the Three Lions’ opening match against Iran. Instead, the 29-year-old was forced to wear a FIFA-sanctioned anti-discrimination armband featuring vague messaging. 

It was initially assumed that the sporting sanctions would involve a yellow card for Kane, Wales’ Gareth Bale or any of the other five captains. But it has now emerged that they would not have been allowed to enter the pitch. 

Match officials would have prevented Kane from leading England out against Iran if he was wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband. It is the latest clampdown by FIFA and Qatari authorities on rainbow-coloured clothing and accessories being sported at the World Cup. 

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That is according to the Daily Mail, who report that teams backed down from wearing the armband after being told it would not be allowed to appear on the pitch. Teams had been determined to wear it to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. 

Qatari law calls for a prison sentence of one to three years for “inducing or seducing a male or a female in any way to commit illegal or immoral actions”. After being told they could not wear the ‘OneLove’ armband, Germany’s players covered their mouths in their team photo to portray being silenced on speaking out. 

Fans have been denied entry to World Cup stadia while wearing rainbow-coloured clothing or items. Wales fans wearing bucket hats – a long-time accessory for supporters of the nation – were detained ahead of their opening game against USA. 

That is despite FIFA – alongside the Qatari authorities – insisting that individuals displaying the rainbow or other sexual identity flags would neither be approached, detained nor prosecuted. A television reporter was told to remove the ‘OneLove’ armband while delivering a live piece to camera. 

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The Independent report that rainbow flags will be allowed in stadiums from the start of the second round of matches. 

England boss Gareth Southgate has insisted his players do not feel any pressure to escalate the protests made against Qatar’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. He said on Thursday: “Do we try to produce a better video than Australia, a better gesture than Germany?

“If we’re rushing to be seen to be doing something, we could make an error. The players and myself have a focus on the games. The FA are taking it seriously and we’re not ducking any questions.

“We’re hugely supportive of our LGBT fanbase and I know some of them feel a little disappointed in terms of the armband not being worn and we will be criticised for that, but sometimes we have to accept the criticism.”

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