Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher says England will look “weak” if they decide not to wear the OneLove armband following continued pressure from FIFA.
The FA and Harry Kane had been adamant that they would wear the armband as a message of anti-discrimination and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
But on Monday morning, FA CEO Mark Bullingham said England are exploring whether there is “another way to show our values” after FIFA threatened to book any captain wearing the OneLove rainbow armband in World Cup matches.
Speaking on Sky Sports News’ World Cup Breakfast, forrmer England defender Carragher said the decision to wear the armband should not be up for discussion at this late stage.
“Harry Kane has to wear it,” he said.
“England have made a big noise about the fact that he is going to wear this, that this is their protest to the World Cup being in Qatar, human rights and everything that goes on in the country that people have criticised.
“This is England’s way of showing that they don’t agree with everything that’s going on in the country.
“They can’t pull out now. The fact that Harry Kane may get a yellow card only strengthens the campaign. For England to pull out because of a yellow card for Kane, I think would be weak, so I think it should make them more determined.
Carragher has insisted that Harry Kane cannot pull out of wearing the One Love captain’s armband against Iran despite the risk of the England skipper being booked immediately.
Nine European captains have pledged to wear the rainbow armband as a protest against LGBT+ laws in World Cup host country Qatar, but reports have surfaced suggesting they will be shown yellow cards before kick off due to FIFA kit rulings.
The FA and Kane now face a decision of whether to go through with the plan or pull out just hours before kick off, but Carragher, speaking on Sky Sports, has claimed that it is too late for minds to be changed now.
‘He has to wear it’, Carragher began. ‘England have made a big noise about the fact Kane is going to wear it.
‘This is a protest in some ways to the World Cup being in Qatar, the situation, human rights, everything that goes on in the country that people have criticised. This was England’s way of showing that they don’t agree with everything that is going on in the country.’
Many bookmakers have suspended betting on Kane being the first booking in the match after thousands piled on the cash.
But in a sign that the FA may change their minds, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham told BBC Radio 4 that if the ‘sporting sanctions’ threat from FIFA is genuine then England will have to see if there is ‘another way to show our values’ rather than wear the armband.
Carragher, however, suggested that Kane being booked will only solidify England’s message.
‘The fact Harry Kane will get a yellow card, and I have seen reports this will happen, will only strengthen the campaign’, he said.
‘I think for England to pull out of that now and not do that all because of a yellow card to Harry Kane would be weak, so I think it should make them more determined.’
If Kane does continue to wear the armband in each game, he will be suspended for England’s final group game against Wales and could miss the semi-final due to a further suspension if England were to progress that far.
Wales’ Gareth Bale is also among the captains planning to wear the armband, as well as Holland’s Virgil van Dijk, whose teams both play today.
They however will have the benefit of seeing what happens to Kane, with England’s game kicking off at 1pm compared to Holland vs Senegal at 4pm and USA vs Wales at 7pm.
The current FIFA equipment rules state that: ‘At FIFA tournaments, match staff must wear official clothing and equipment provided by FIFA, including FIFA event badges specified and provided by FIFA.’
Unofficial clothing such as the One Love armbands could be deemed illegal, and players wearing them could be fined or shown yellow cards.
The FA expected a fine for breaching FIFA’s statutes but now the prospect of Kane paying the price is one that they are concerned about heading into the major tournament.
Kane said: ‘We have made it clear as a team, staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband. I know the FA are talking to FIFA and by game time they will have had their decision.
England are also planning to take the knee before kick off as a showing of solidarity.