England squad open politically-charged World Cup by taking the knee

England squad open politically-charged World Cup by taking the knee – after backing down on OneLove armband amid FIFA backlash

  • England kicked off their World Cup campaign at 1pm UK time against Iran
  • Team all took the knee after being banned from using rainbow armbands
  • England and eight other teams planned to wear armband as an equality gesture

England’s stars took the knee at the start of their World Cup campaign – hours after being banned from wearing LGBT rainbow armbands.

Captain Harry Kane led the gesture moments before the 1pm kick-off against Iran in Qatar. 

It is shaping up to be one of the most political World Cups in memory, with a series of controversies already dogging the competition. 

The Three Lions were denied a clear penalty just three minutes into the game, when Harry Maguire was clearly dragged down in the box. Maguire then headed against the crossbar.

Thousands of Three Lions supporters are in the Khalifa Stadium in Doha including the WAGs of the players and David Beckham while millions are watching at home, work or in pubs with high streets across the UK deserted as people settled down for the 1pm match. 

England took the knee as they started their first World Cup campaign against Iran in one of the most politically-charged matches in English football history after a row over wearing a rainbow captain’s armband for Harry Kane, which was dropped after pressure from FIFA. 

Harry Kane takes the knee before the kick off in an anti-racism stance

Harry Kane takes the knee before the kick off in an anti-racism stance

Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Harry Maguire also lowered themselves to the pitch to take the knee before the match with Iran began

Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Harry Maguire also lowered themselves to the pitch to take the knee before the match with Iran began

Kane was wearing the official FIFA 'No Discrimination' armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems. The rainbow armband was expected to be worn but the threat of a booking stopped it

Kane was wearing the official FIFA ‘No Discrimination’ armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems. The rainbow armband was expected to be worn but the threat of a booking stopped it

Kane looked serious as he led the team on to the pitch. The England captain did not wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband after the threat of a yellow card proved too much of a risk for the FA.

Alan Shearer said today that Kane had been put in an impossible position ahead of one of the biggest games of his career, but added that he would probably have worn the armband himself.

Kane was wearing the official FIFA ‘No Discrimination’ armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems.

Loud whistles greeted the Iranian anthem, with the whole Iran team opting not to sing.

Harry Kane has already been pictured wearing the OneLove armband while training in Qatar, ahead of England's match against Iran

Harry Kane has already been pictured wearing the OneLove armband while training in Qatar, ahead of England’s match against Iran

Captain Harry Kane has been vocal about his support for wearing the armband and was seen sporting it during training on Sunday

Social media erupted with criticism after the U-turn on the armband was announced by the FA

Social media erupted with criticism after the U-turn on the armband was announced by the FA

The entire England team then took the knee and Harry Kane appeared to raise his fist – but the Iranians did not take part.

Earlier the FA’s decision to ask Kane not to wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband for England’s World Cup opener was branded spineless.

The armband is a show of solidarity for the LGBT+ community and captain Kane has said he wanted to wear it at kick-off at 1pm. Homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar.

But FIFA has strict rules about apparel that can be worn by players and the armband is not allowed under the code. 

It meant Kane could have faced an immediate booking this afternoon if he walked out wearing the ‘OneLove’ band.

If he wore it again in their second match, the skipper could have been slapped with another yellow, automatically banning him from the third game.

In a statement the Football Association said: ‘We have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armband in FIFA World Cup games.

‘We cannot put our players in a situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play’ ‘

Minutes after the announcement was made ‘spineless’ began trending on Twitter. One fan said: ‘The FA should not buckle under the pressure.

Another said:  ‘Predictably it’s the spineless FA that have withered at the fist sign of resistance.’

Holland were intending to wear them too, but announced today it would not be sporting the band. 

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