Gary Lineker aims dig at Gianni Infantino over OneLove armband

England fans at Boxpark Croydon in good voice ahead of Iran game

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BBC host Gary Lineker aimed a dig at FIFA boss Gianni Infantino ahead of England’s opening World Cup game with Iran, after the Three Lions alongside several other nations opted against continuing their protest of wearing the OneLove armband in Qatar. Captain Harry Kane was preparing to wear the armband at the tournament, but he instead will be wearing the FIFA-approved armband instead after being threatened with a yellow card.

A statement from the FA confirmed that captain Harry Kane may have been shown a yellow card for wearing the armband. “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a 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.

“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.”

JUST IN: Gary Neville tells England genius way they can still wear OneLove armband during World Cup

Lineker weighed in on the call at the start of the BBC’s broadcast of England’s opening game with Iran. “Another day, another controversy,” the former England striker said. “Seven European nations including England and Wales will not wear the OneLove anti-discrimination armbands after FIFA threatened players could be punished by doing so in a joint statement the team’s said: ‘As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings. We are frustrated by the FIFA decision which we think is unprecedented.’ Gianni Infantino’s not feeling armbands today.”

Kane will wear an armband proposed by FIFA instead, which features a different social campaign in each round of the competition and begin with #FootballUnitesTheWorld in the first round of the group stages. They do not mention specific support for the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar however, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

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Fellow BBC pundit Alan Shearer believes that it is unfair on the players to have the armband situation surrounding them ahead of their opening game in Qatar. “I don’t think it’s fair on the players having to deal with this the morning of the game,” he added.

“They have done incredible off the pitch, on the pitch and during the pandemic, they knew it was in the rulebook they wasn’t allowed to wear the armband so to face these questions and put statements out… it’s not fair on the players having to deal with this, one of the biggest games they could face and on the morning of a World Cup game, about the kick-off, all the players should be thinking about is winning the game.”

Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand agreed that the players were put in a difficult position. “They can’t win,” Ferdinand said. “You damned if you do, damned if you don’t, if you speak out people say ‘you’re not a politician, sit down and get back in your box’, if you speak out people think ‘you’re a politician now’. Federations need to be stronger, us nations have to combat this together and say this is where we stand.”

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