EXCLUSIVE: England stars led by captain Harry Kane were forced to improvise a makeshift plan to take the knee at the World Cup by using kick-off countdown… as FIFA refused to alter procedures
The Three Lions were the only team in Qatar to make the powerful anti-discrimination gesture before all of their fixtures, though Wales also took the knee in their game against Gareth Southgate‘s team on November 29 in a show of solidarity.
And it can be revealed that the national squad were forced into implementing a makeshift plan after it was made clear that FIFA would not alter their own kick-off procedures to accommodate England’s wish to take the knee.
England players hatched an improvised plan to fulfil their vow of taking the knee in Qatar
The Three Lions were the only team in Qatar to make the powerful anti-discrimination gesture
When players take the knee in England, the referee would blow his whistle twice – first to prompt the taking of the knee with another to start the 90 minutes.
But during the World Cup, games are started by a 10 second countdown on the stadium’s jumbo screens before the referee blows to signal the start of the match.
However, while giving the England team permission to take the knee, it was made clear that officials would not provide a an additional blow of the whistle to indicate when England’s players were allowed to take the knee.
And in a team meeting, players agreed that they would use the stadium countdown as a prompt to take the knee, with captain Kane being the first to make the gesture with all the rest immediately following.
England players were determined to make a gesture of inclusivity at the World Cup, particularly after Kane was prevented from wearing the controversial ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband after FIFA made clear that doing so could lead to significant sanctions.
Captain Harry Kane was the first to make the gesture with all the rest immediately following
Premier League have not taken the knee for the vast majority of the domestic season – but will undertake the gesture when matches reconvene on Boxing Day.
Meanwhile, the FA are not expecting a decision on whether Southgate remains in his job until the turn year.
There is doubt over whether the England boss will stay on for the Euro 2024 campaign after he admitted he is considering his future.
But the situation is likely to drag into the start of 2023 as Southgate takes the necessary time to make a final decision.