With two days to go before the World Cup, the head of the English FA, Mark Bullingham, has said that England captain and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane will wear the rainbow “OneLove” captain’s armband during the Three Lions’ matches in defiance of FIFA’s prohibitions, but that the FA expects to be fined for doing so.
Bullingham, in comments given to Sky Sports, said that Kane’s decision to wear the armband, which is designed as a small visual display of support for inclusivity at the World Cup, is an important opportunity for the English FA to “show our values.” FIFA prohibits the use of non-standardized equipment and “unsanctioned slogans” by competing clubs and organizations, but Bullingham said that the FA requested permission from FIFA to do so and never heard back.
“They haven’t given us any response to our letter. I think there’s a possibility that we might be fined. And if we are, then we’ll pay the fine. We think it’s really important to show our values. And that’s what we’ll be doing.”
England is one of 13 European nations that signed on to a pledge from the One Love Foundation, which seeks to promote inclusivity within football. The pledge is intended to be a show of solidarity for LGBTQ+ individuals and a plea for inclusivity in a tournament hosted by a nation in Qatar that has a demonstrated track record of human rights abuses, criminalizes homosexuality, and prohibits the rights of women within its borders. Most of the nations who have signed the pledge — Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and Wales, are participating in the World Cup, though notably France has already signaled that its captain and Kane’s club teammate Hugo Lloris, will not wear the armband.
Bulllingham also told Sky Sports that he is concerned that lack of assurances on the safety of LGBTQ+ fans in Qatar have likely prevented many English fans from making the trip to the World Cup, which kicks off in 48 hours. But Bullingham also hailed the amount of progress on inclusivity issues within football in general while acknowledging that there’s still a ways yet to go.
“It’s sad for us that quite a few of our LGBTQ fans have decided not to come and I know a lot of our Three Lions Pride members are not coming. And that was frustrating because they didn’t get the information they wanted in time to make their arrangements.
“I think when you look at everything that’s been achieved over the last four years, there has been really positive progress.
“What’s critical for us though, is these last two outstanding issues should be brought through. We’ll be putting a lot of pressure on FIFA, together with a bunch of other European countries to do that.”
Kane and England’s World Cup campaign begins this coming Monday, November 21 with a Group B match against Iran. Kickoff is 8:00 a.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. UK.