Gary Neville slams ‘rogue organisation’ FIFA after threats of ‘unlimited’ One Love disciplinary action at World Cup

Gary Neville described FIFA as a “rogue organisation” after Mark Bullingham told ITV that players potentially faced “unlimited’ disciplinary action for wearing the One Love armband.

England’s chief executive Bullingham told ITV that in theory any players wearing an armband could have incurred “unlimited” disciplinary action.

“It’s very important to understand what’s happened here,” he said ahead of England’s match against the United States. “We’ve been very clear: we wanted to wear it, and we were committed.

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“And on Saturday before the game we felt we had reached an understanding where we would wear it, we hadn’t got permission but we would face a fine for it. Unfortunately then on the day of the game, they gave us 10 minutes’ notice, two hours before we were due to go to the game.

“They came here with five officials and they ran us through a scenario where – at a minimum – anyone wearing the armband would be booked and face disciplinary action on top of that.”

Asked to describe the scope of any punishment, he explained: “It was unlimited, and they would take disciplinary action against any player who was wearing the armband on top of the yellow card.

“It’s not clear, they just said they would take disciplinary action and there is unlimited liability that could be in that action.”

Bullingham said it was completely unprecedented.

He continued: “They way that they acted was completely unprecedented. All I can say is the level of feeling was really high, we were really frustrated, we were angry, we thought it was outrageous the way this was handled.

“We felt we couldn’t put the players in a position where it’s a World Cup, many have dreamt of playing [in] since they were young, suddenly they couldn’t play a part in it, they might be facing a ban and that’s’ not a scenario we felt we could put them in.”

In future, Bullingham wants bidding rules in place to make sure this controversy is not repeated.

He stated: “I do think that as any bidding criteria you have to have a base layer of human rights and that has to be part of a discussion that has to be had, that has to happen when countries bid for the World Cup. Not a discussion that takes place in the build-up to it.

“I understand the hurt that communities are feeling, and that’s the last thing we wanted to do. We wanted to show our support for these communities and it’s incredibly frustrating that we haven’t been able to do so.”

“It’s what I expected the FA would say,” Neville said on ITV after hearing what Bullingham had to say.

“It doesn’t surprise me FIFA have acted like that, they’re a rogue organisation who I think in this particular tournament we have probably seen them at their worst; they don’t need to be that way, they represent world football, I don’t think they’re a great face for world football, what’s an armband going to do, really, to harm FIFA?”

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