Follow the latest news and analysis from the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is underway with both England and Wales starting their campaigns today. Gareth Southgate’s team convincingly defeated Iran 6-2 in the midday game, while Rob Page’s Wales put up a tough fight against the USA to end the game 1-1.
While Bukayo Saka and Gareth Bale shone for their respective countries, attention turned to things off the field. England and Wales have decided not to wear the One Love anti-discrimination armband at their World Cup matches after FIFA threatened them with sporting sanctions, while reports surfaced that fans wearing any ‘banned’ rainbow symbols inside stadiums would not be allowed in had.
Follow the latest on our live blog, including reports from our football reporter Rahman Osman in Qatar…
It has been announced that England and Wales will not wear anti-discrimination armbands at their World Cup matches today after FIFA threatened them with sporting sanctions.
A joint statement from seven European nations that had joined the One Love campaign – including England and Wales – confirmed they had asked to stop wearing the armbands.
“FIFA has made it very clear that if our captains wear the armbands on the pitch, they will impose sporting sanctions,” the statement began.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a situation where they face sporting sanctions, including warnings. That’s why we asked the captains not to try to wear the armbands at FIFA World Cup matches.”
FIFA’s move today to threaten players who wear the One Love rainbow armband with penalties brings even more controversy within world football’s governing body.
In response to the latest move, the Football Supporters Association issued a statement paraphrasing Infantino’s “I feel gay today” speech on Saturday:
“To paraphrase FIFA President Gianni Infantino, today LGBT+ football fans and their allies will be furious.
“Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organization that has shown its true values by showing players the yellow card and tolerance the red card.
“Never again should a World Cup be awarded solely for money and infrastructure. No country that disregards LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, labor rights or other universal human rights should be given the honor of hosting a World Cup.
“Since 2010 we have been asking questions about Qatar’s suitability to host the World Cup. Everyone could see this coming and it’s amazing that on the morning of the World Cup opener in England, FIFA is trying to censor players who have spread a positive message.”
Anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out also released a statement attacking FIFA’s move:
“We are disappointed that FIFA intends to impose sanctions on European nations that choose to wear the One Love armband and prevent teams from sending a strong signal to the world that diversity and inclusion are an essential part of football.
“This decision underscores FIFA’s failure to address concerns from both human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community ahead of this tournament.
“Players and fans would not have had to bear the burden of FIFA’s mistakes and we will continue to support Gareth Southgate and his team as they explore other ways of promoting inclusion in football.
“Football should be a game for everyone and Kick It Out remains in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Our football reporter Rahman Osman met some English fans in Qatar ahead of the World Cup opener against Iran.
Warning, contains some swear words:
Downing Street said FIFA’s rainbow armband threat was frustrating.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We share the FA’s frustration at Fifa’s decision on this which puts players in a very difficult position. Ultimately, it is a decision of the FA. In relation to LGBT rights more broadly, Qatar’s policy is clearly not that of the UK Government and we would not support it.”
On the issue of squats, Downing Street said it will respect teams’ decisions: “It’s a team decision first and foremost,” said the Prime Minister’s official spokesman. “We will respect their decision.”
They added that Rishi Sunak is unlikely to be able to see England’s World Cup opener as he makes a string of engagements in the Midlands.
While England’s players may not have been able to wear the One Love armband, BBC sport pundit Alex Scott saw an opportunity.
She wore the rainbow armband ahead of England’s opener against Iran, who are still goalless.
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said it was “disappointing” that players were being penalized for supporting equality.
“The England & Wales players have my support,” she said on Twitter. “The #OneLove bracelet promotes diversity and inclusion, values we will always stand for. It is disappointing that our players are being put in a position where they are being penalized for supporting equal human rights.”
Goals from Jude Bellingham, Bakayo Saka and Raheem Sterling saw England trail Iran 3-0 in their World Cup opener.
There was 14 minutes of stoppage time in the first half following the treatment of Iranian goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, who eventually had to be substituted after suffering a headbutt concussion. Serious questions were asked as to why he was allowed to continue playing despite heads banging, leaving him with a bloody nose.
England took a 6-1 lead against Iran just minutes from the end. Yes, SIX.
Jack Grealish rolled off in the sixth goal after second-half effort Bakayo Saka (his second of the game) and substitute Marcus Rasford.
Now Iran have ten minutes of stoppage time to get through…
Iran is withdrawing a consolation sentence on the death penalty. Total result: England 6-2 Iran.
Fun fact: it was the first World Cup goal for every English goal scorer. That bodes well for the future.