Spineless English and Welsh FAs could learn from Germany and Iran’s protests during World Cup

Other nations are standing up for what they believe in, despite what it will cost them, but England and Wales quickly reneged on their promise to send a powerful message of solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities around the globe, writes Laura Lawrence.

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The first week of the Qatar World Cup has been a whirlwind of upsets, extra time and paltry efforts of protest.

In a land where time never ends and football matches are a tenth longer than anywhere else, Saudi Arabia had an 8.7 per cent chance of beating Argentina – and yet it happened. It must go down as one of the greatest upsets in world cup history.

Japan took the honours against Germany as well but what they can’t take away from the German football team is their ability to follow through with a promise. After not being granted permission to wear the One Love armband in support of LGBTQIA+ communities across the world, the German players chose to pose for their team photo with their hands covering their mouths, a gesture of being gagged.

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They didn’t take the hit on a yellow card by wearing the One Love armband, but at least the German FA didn’t immediately wilt like a flower in a drought like the English and Welsh FAs.

Protest should be uncomfortable. Real protest should provoke and have consequences, otherwise it is the emptiest of empty gestures.

Look at The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ (RMT) Mick Lynch. The media desperately vox pop commuters to find ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ but the consensus is they agree with the RMT’s strike. The rail strikes have been clearly laid out, consistent in their message and planned. Whether you agree with their stance or not, what would be the point of the union if they just said, ‘Oh ok, it’s making some people late for a meeting, we’ll stop doing it now’?

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The Iranian football team face real consequences for protesting. The civil unrest in Iran is a cause worth fighting for but they face arrest, or worse, under the regime. Fans held up banners and wore T-shirts with the slogan ‘Women Life Freedom’.

Carlos Queiroz’s side chose to not sing their national anthem in their first game against England. This is what real protest looks like. Subsequent pressure was applied by the Iranian government so, for their second match against Wales, the players sang the anthem. Fans booed from the stands and they cried, visibly weeping from oppression.

But we can’t have Harry Kane or Gareth Bale on a yellow card, they might miss a match – the horror.

The English and Welsh FAs are gutless when it comes to Uefa and Fifa. If the captains of these countries had defied the footballing bodies and worn the One Love armband it would have been seen all around the world – a show of solidarity which they promised. But they bowed down to another embattled regime instead. Spineless.

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Follow Laura on Twitter @YICETOR

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