Jack Grealish slams ‘STUPID’ decision by FIFA to threaten countries into abandoning their support for the OneLove armband… as England star says players ‘felt strongly’ over the matter but it was ‘out of their control’
Jack Grealish has hit out at the decision by FIFA to threaten countries into abandoning their support for the OneLove armband.
England captain Harry Kane – along with six other European skippers – planned to wear the armbands promoting inclusivity and LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar, a country which criminalises same-sex relationships.
But all seven countries backed down once FIFA threatened to book players who wore it.
After the match, Grealish said he felt it was ‘stupid’ why they couldn’t wear the armband.
He told ITV Sport: ‘Obviously we wanted to wear it. I think it’s a bit stupid why we couldn’t. Harry himself wanted to wear it, we all wanted Harry to wear it but sometimes in life and in football things are out of your control and there’s not much you can do about it.
Jack Grealish has slammed FIFA’s ‘stupid’ decision to threaten teams into abandoning their support in wearing the OneLove armband throughout the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Seven skippers of European nations involved at the World Cup had pledged to wear the armband in Qatar before FIFA announced that players could be punished for wearing it
‘I’ll be honest with you, I actually haven’t been in no meetings or anything about it. But from my point of view and everybody else’s in there, we all wanted Harry to wear it but I read before that he might get booked so there’s stuff out of your control.
‘But from me and all the lads we wanted Harry to wear it. We feel strongly about it, we’re with them [LGBT+ fans], we wish they were here with us. All I can say is we wanted to wear it, we feel the same way they do.’
The FA could not risk Kane being booked as it would have put him at risk of being suspended for later stages of the tournament.
Asked after the game, the Tottenham striker also insisted he was disappointed by the decision.
He said: ‘Yeah, I think we’re disappointed. I turned up to the stadium with the armband that I did wear and I was told I had to wear that.
‘Look, it’s out of our control as players. I’m sure the FA and FIFA will continue those discussions but most importantly today we focused on the game and got a great result.’
Harry Kane revealed he was not involved in decision for him not to wear a ‘One Love’ armband
Kane instead donned a ‘No Discrimination’ armband during England’s victory against Iran
Eventually he wore one of FIFA’s own ‘no discrimination’ armbands. It is understood the Tottenham captain understood and accepted the FA’s stance.
The decision not to wear the OneLove armband though has been criticised by pundits.
Roy Keane told ITV Sport that England and Wales made a ‘big mistake‘ and that Kane and Gareth Bale should have taken the yellow card in the opening game of the tournament.
Gary Neville meanwhile suggested that England boss Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff should wear the armband, with a different person wearing it each game.
Roy Keane is among a number of pundits to criticise teams for not wearing the armband
The pundit tweeted: ‘Gareth game one, Steve Holland game two, Keeper coach game three, Physio game four. Etc.’
The FA released a statement on the situation, saying: ‘FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.
‘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.
Jack Grealish scored England’s final goal in their thrilling 6-2 victory against Iran on Monday
‘However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
‘We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the OneLove armbands to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.
‘Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.’
What is the OneLove armband?
Nine countries including England and Wales had planned to sport the OneLove armband for this year’s tournament.
The armband has its roots in the Netherlands and is designed to promote diversity and inclusion with football.
In 2021, Georginio Wijnaldum wore the armband at a European Championship game in Hungary with the consent of UEFA, the governing body of European football.
It is a white armband with a heart emblazoned on it, accompanied by the words ‘One’ and ‘Love’.
The armband was designed to advocate for the rights of the LGBT+ community, among other marginalised groups within football, and to support equality for all.
Although it has a core message related to the LGBT+ community, it is far more than that, and represents a call to respect everyone’s human rights regardless of age, race, sexual or gender identity, nationality or disability.