In Qatar, sodomy between men can result in imprisonment of between one and three years. LGBTQ+ people in the country have faced harassment, abuse, torture, arrest and deportation. 

That’s one of many reasons why controversy swirls around the World Cup, a tournament which kicked off on Sunday despite widespread concern over human rights abuses. 

England had intended to make a bold statement against Iran today. But now…

What was this statement?

England captain Harry Kane had planned to wear a rainbow-coloured armband featuring the message ‘OneLove’. In a country where same-sex relationships are illegal, this would have been a powerful message of defiance witnessed by hundreds of millions. 

How did Kane feel about it?

“We’ve made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband*” insisted the 29-year-old striker. 

Why have you added an asterisk?

Because Kane’s quote should have read ‘we want to wear the armband unless we face negative consequences’. 

What are you basing that on?

The English Football Association (FA) had suggested they were prepared to pay a fine in order for Kane to wear the armband, but now they’ve been told Kane could receive a yellow card for the gesture. 

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‘We strongly condemn Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people, to the extent that we are willing to face consequences on the field as well as off it in protest’ is an inspirational statement. 

It would be, if they actually did make that statement. 

What have they gone with?

‘We strongly condemn Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people, but not so much that we’re willing to stand with those LGBTQ+ people if it means our captain being booked’. 

That’ll show them. What happened?

Along with Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales, England have confirmed that they will not wear the armband. 

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A joint statement from the football associations of the seven countries says governing body FIFA “will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play”, and adds “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.”

How have Qatar’s leaders responded?

They are said to be ‘deeply concerned’ that England players will embarrass them by quietly tutting or even looking a bit peeved. 

Will Kane still be wearing an armband?

Possibly, but he’ll need a smaller font.


It’s hard to fit ‘Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them I have others’ on an armband.