World Cup armband row: Roy Keane says England made ‘big mistake’ with One Love decision in Qatar

Roy Keane has said England made a “big mistake” by not wearing the One Love armband despite potential sporting sanctions from FIFA.

Seven nations, including England and Wales, had planned to wear the armband during matches at the World Cup in Qatar to promote diversity and inclusion.

However, they decided not to due to the threat of players being booked.

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The decision was made less than 24 hours before England’s first game against Iran, which they won 6-2.Former England captain Rio Ferdinand said the Football Association “folded like a pack of cards” and his ex-Manchester United team-mate Keane agreed.

“I think the players could have done it for the first game and taken the punishment, whatever that might be,” Keane said on ITV.

“[Harry] Kane you’re obviously risking getting a yellow card. That would have been a great statement. Do it for the first game, if you get your yellow card what a message that would have been from Kane or [Gareth] Bale.

“Take your medicine and then the next game you move on and you don’t wear it because you don’t want to get suspended.

“I think it was a big mistake. I think both [sets of] players, we’re talking about England Wales here, should have stuck to their guns and done it, whatever pressure from outside and their own associations. Have the belief, if that’s what you believe then go with it.”

Instead of the One Love armband, which included a ‘heart containing colours representative of all backgrounds’, England captain Kane instead wore FIFA’s ‘No Discrimination’ armband against Iran.

Speaking after the victory, England manager Gareth Southgate said: “The armband, it’s not something the players or myself have been involved with over the last 24 hours.

“Those discussions have been ongoing between several European nations and FIFA.

“I actually do understand FIFA’s situation, in that you could set a precedent, and it’s very difficult then over where do you draw the line.

“I think in an ideal world that would have been a much clearer situation earlier, but it’s not something that’s been a distraction for us, because as I said yesterday, we had to focus on the football.

“There’s so much else going on. We can’t be involved in that now, we’ve got to concentrate on performances, concentrate on our training. Especially the players, it’s not for them to have to deal with that. People know what we stand for.”

Wales manager Rob Page said ahead of their game against USA that he didn’t want to risk Gareth Bale starting on a yellow card.

“Of course we are not happy. It’s been made so late towards the game that there’s nothing we can do about it,” he told ITV.

“I am not going to risk Gareth Bale going out onto the pitch already having a booking, it’s crazy. It’s not fair to ask the players to do that. He has waited so long to play at a World Cup and if we were to do it and overrule it then he would be suspended for the third game and not play. We don’t agree with it but it’s something we have to deal with.”

England play USA in their next Group B match on Friday, November 25.

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