It was a dramatic opening day to the World Cup in Qatar and day two appears to be heading down a very similar path.
Qatar and Ecuador opened the tournament with the South Americans claiming a 2-0 win and making the hosts the first home nation to lose their World Cup opener.
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But it wasn’t all as fears for overcrowded fan zones and locals telling fans to “shut up, sit down”.
More drama continued throughout the day after England were banned from wearing “One Love” armbands in support of LGBTQ communities in Qatar.
The first match kicks off at 12am AEDT.
Day 2 World Cup matches (times in AEDT)
— 12am: England Vs Iran
— 3am: Senegal Vs Netherlands
— 6am: USA vs. Wales
How to watch and stream the 2022 World Cup
‘Absolute farce’: England’s last-minute backflip panned
The English football team is being roundly slammed ahead of its World Cup opener for backing down and electing not to wear an armband in support of LGBTQ rights under the threat of punishment from FIFA.
The English were among seven teams that planned to don “One Love” armbands in a move widely seen as a protest against host nation Qatar’s treatment of gay people.
Today those plans were scrapped in the face of a threat from FIFA to yellow card any captain who wore such an armband.
Just yesterday, England captain Harry Kane stressed that he and his team had “made it clear that we want to wear the armband”, though he added that the decision would ultimately fall to the Football Association.
“But yeah, I feel we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it,” Kane said.
He was backed up by coach Gareth Southgate.
So much for that.
Prominent English supporters, including some who previously dismissed the One Love armbands as “virtue signalling”, panned their FA for folding to FIFA’s pressure.
“Gay people in Qatar could face seven years in prison but the English FA ‘cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked’. What an absolute farce,” said LBC radio presenter Ben Kentish.
“This somewhat defeats the argument that going to Qatar rather than boycotting the World Cup allows you to make your point about rights in the country,” noted ITV’s UK editor, Paul Brand.
“It’s not a principled stance if, as soon as it may cost you something, you crumble. What a song and dance the Football Association made of announcing this, and all for nothing,” Ruth Davidson, the Conservative Party’s leader in Scotland, said of the armband initiative.
And broadcaster Piers Morgan, ever spoken, called the FA’s decision “pathetic”.
“I’m not gay, but if I was, I’d be absolutely furious about this FA armband U-turn. Makes an absolute mockery of the whole, ‘We’re going to speak out about human rights in Qatar rather than boycott it stance,’” he tweeted.
“Ridiculous that England made such a fuss about wearing virtue-signalling armbands at this World Cup. Even more ridiculous they’ve now been bullied into not wearing them. If you’re going to virtue signal, at least have the guts to stick to your supposed principles.”
The England fans group 3 Lions Pride released a statement saying its members “stand together in condemning” FIFA’s edict.
The group said football’s governing body was guilty of “silencing anti-discrimination work within the game and giving a platform to hatred”.
“This abuse of power by those who have chosen to remain silent for so long is a gross betrayal of trust and cannot be allowed to stand. We have no faith in FIFA, and no trust in this World Cup.”
The Football Supporters’ Association also issued a statement, with similar sentiments.
“Today LGBT football supporters and their allies will feel angry. Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organization that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance,” the FSA said.
“Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights or any other universal human right should be given the honor of hosting a World Cup.
“Everyone could see this coming, and it’s astonishing that, on the morning of England’s World Cup opener, FIFA is censoring players and the nine national FAs who wish to share a positive message.”
England’s 11th hour call in armband drama
England, Germany and five other European teams at the World Cup on Monday abandoned plans to wear a rainbow-themed armband in support of LGBTQ rights, citing the threat of disciplinary action from FIFA.
Under FIFA rules, players wearing kit that is not authorized by football’s world governing body could be shown a yellow card.
If that player was then shown a second yellow card, they would be sent off.
The “OneLove” armband due to be warned by the likes of England captain Harry Kane and Germany counterpart Manuel Neuer is designed as part of a campaign to promote inclusivity.
The armbands had widely been viewed as a protest against laws in host nation Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
The federations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland released a statement slamming FIFA’s call.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.
“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband.
“However we cannot put our players in a position where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.
“Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”