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England to kneel, Kane to wear One Love armband against Iran – SABC News

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England will kneel and captain Harry Kane will wear the One Love armband in their World Cup opener against Iran on Monday, manager Gareth Southgate confirmed on Sunday.

England has knelt before games since 2020, first in solidarity with protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, and later in support of equality.

The gesture is no longer a feature before the Premier League opener, where it is used selectively, but Southgate believes it is important his team continue it at the World Cup.

“This is what we do as a team and have done for a long period of time,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We think it’s the biggest (stage) and we think it’s a powerful statement that will go around the world for young people in particular to see that inclusivity is very important.”

On Monday, Kane will wear the One Love armband along with the captains of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales.

The headband signifies support for equality, and while it’s not exclusively aimed at the rights of the LGBTQ community, it’s important in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA takes a dim view of political statements and may punish those wearing the One Love armband with fines or disciplinary action, according to reports.

Kane, however, said he would wear one.

“We’ve made it clear as a team, staff and organization that we want to wear the armband,” Kane said. “The FA are currently talking to FIFA and I’m sure we would have accepted their decision by tomorrow’s game.”

Southgate has become accustomed to tackling social issues during his time as England manager, and Sunday’s media conference once again went beyond the playing field.

The former defender was asked in a question from an Iranian reporter that lasted several minutes whether he supported those protesting the Iranian regime, a cause supported by some Iranian players.

“I don’t feel informed enough to comment on what’s going on in Iran, and I don’t think it’s my place to comment,” Southgate said.

“I think the Iranian players and the manager (Carlos Queiroz), I understand them, they are in a difficult position, but I think they are better informed to talk about these things.

“If their team asked us to support them in some way, we would obviously have to listen and take that into account, but at the moment that hasn’t happened.”

Southgate said his top priority was for his team to bring some joy back home, where political turmoil and a cost-of-living crisis provide a bleak backdrop to the World Cup.

“We all hope to focus on football now,” he said. “Our country is also going through a difficult period, not like some other countries, but we are in an economic recession and life has been difficult for many of our people.

“So we want them to enjoy football, travel with the team and bring them happiness.”

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