Former England footballer Teddy Sheringham has branded threats of sanctions against World Cup players for wearing an armband supporting LGBTQ rights a “joke”.
On Monday, a joint statement from seven European nations who had signed up to the OneLove campaign – which included England and Wales – confirmed the rainbow armbands will no longer be worn due to fear of a yellow card being issued.
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Sheringham said he would have “loved” to see England captain Harry Kane wear the armband and said Fifa was “in the wrong” to potentially punish players.
Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “We’re a country that is one love. It’s a problem that he hasn’t been allowed to do it.”
“They (Fifa) are the ones who are in the wrong,” he added. “They should have allowed it. You can’t blame Harry Kane one bit.”
Asked for his thoughts on Qatar as the tournament host, Sheringham replied that he was here to talk about football and was “not a politician”.
The former striker watched England play Iran in their first game at the Budweiser Fan Festival in central London.
Supporters at the venue in Tottenham Court Road also spoke out against the armband decision.
Joseph Wild, 25, an outdoor activities instructor, said Kane should have donned the armband and taken the yellow card.
Cheers and chants in the underground venue were frequent and featured “Southgate You’re The One”, “Three Lions” and “Harry Maguire”.
Accountant Tom Davies, 25, from Birmingham, said: “I’ve been pacing up and down this room so much that I could start raising money for the NHS.”
Many fans said they had booked the time off work to watch the first winter World Cup in the tournament’s history.
Sheringham said he liked the season change, adding: “Normally the World Cup would be going on and you would think to yourself, ‘Should I watch the World Cup or should I go and play golf in the lovely sunshine…or go for a picnic?’ But now, it’s wet and it’s cold outside so let’s watch four games of football during the day.”
The room boasted a large standing space under a terrace where VIPs stood to watch the wall-to-wall screen.
Cheers and lobbed beers also followed every time England scored until the final whistle was blown – with England triumphing over Iran 6-2.