OPINION - England 6-2 Iran, FIFA wins again

 (Ben Turner)
(Ben Turner)

If Filippo Inzaghi was born offside and Patrick Vieira perennially one yellow card away from suspension, what of Harry Kane?

This morning, the football associations of England and Wales announced via a joint statement along with some other European nations that their captains would no longer wear ‘One Love’ armbands. This was in response to FIFA’s threat of “sporting sanctions”, including an immediate yellow card.

What a mess. The armband was already barely a statement to begin with, devised to say something amorphous about diversity without getting anyone into trouble. Indeed, the only thing that gave it any power was FIFA’s threat.

Contrast with the protest of the Iranian players, who refused to sing their country’s national anthem as a statement against the regime in Tehran, which has engaged in a brutal crackdown against women-led demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini. A protest made all the more powerful by the knowledge there will be consequences for their actions, certainly greater than a yellow card.

This isn’t to throw Kane under the bus, which would almost certainly see him ruled out of the tournament. The England captain would not have been put in this position had a series of events not occurred, from the awarding of the tournament in the first place to FIFA’s threat of sanctions.

The point is, if the FA was always going to back down in the face of even mild retribution, it shouldn’t have made the suggestion. We’ve all learned the hard way – don’t offer to takeover loading the dishwasher from your partner if you don’t actually mean it. They may say ‘thanks’. England won the match 6-2.

Elsewhere in the paper, it was another bad weekend for collective action and the future of the world, as COP27 ended with barely a negative word to say about fossil fuels. Strong recommend for the speech made on the final day by outgoing COP26 president, Alok Sharma. It’s short and packed with well-earned fury.

In the comment pages, Melanie McDonagh says Shamima Begum ought to face justice in Britain because she is the product of this society we should come to terms with that.

Tanya Gold is reassessing her relationship with Twitter, “a place for performative decency, rather than the real kind.” While Charlotte Metcalfe, who’s struggled to sell her west London because of the pub next door, says it’s not an inconvenience – it’s a gift worth cherishing.

And finally, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo break the internet in a new Louis Vuitton campaign. Which begs the question, could Gerrard and Lampard appear together in the same advert?

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