England vs Iran: Players will take knee before World Cup game, says Gareth Southgate

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England manager Gareth Southgate has said his team will take a knee before their opening World Cup game against Iran on Monday.

Premier League footballers first carried out the anti-racism gesture in 2020, with England doing the same in subsequent international fixtures.

And Southgate has confirmed that the Three Lions will continue to do so at the Qatar World Cup, starting with their Group B match against Iran on Monday (21 November).

“We’ve discussed taking the knee and we feel we should,” the former England midfielder, 52, said at a press conference on Sunday (20 November).

“It is what we stand for as a team, and we have done for a long period of time.

“We believe it is a strong statement that will go around the world.”

England captain Harry Kane will also wear a OneLove armband at the World Cup, defying Fifa and the governing body’s own social awareness campaign.

Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale are among the seven captains that will wear the OneLove armband, along with the skippers of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. The campaign is designed to highlight discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar and concerns over the welfare of migrant labour.

France had also been expected to participate, but captain Hugo Lloris has decided against taking part, in order to “show respect to Qatar”.

Fifa launched their own armband campaign on Saturday (19 November), in partnership with United Nations agencies, with different messages prepared for each round. Messages include “#SaveThePlanet”, “#NoDiscrimination” and “#FootballUnitesTheWorld”, which will be worn during the first round of group games.

Fifa have instructed all competing nations to wear their armband, but England’s Football Association (FA) and the Football Association of Wales are understood to be pressing ahead with the OneLove campaign regardless.

“We respect Fifa’s request but we are committed to wearing our OneLove armbands in this World Cup,” said an FA source.

Mark Bullingham, the FA’s chief executive, has previously said England are prepared run the risk of being fined by world football’s governing body. It is unclear whether Fifa will follow through on their threats as yet.

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