Only three hours before England’s match, FIFA announced that England and six other nations would not wear the OneLove armband in Qatar. The armband was going to be worn by players as a way of highlighting their disagreement with beliefs about homosexuality in Qatar which sees it as illegal.
The U-turn was decided after FIFA threatened booking any captain who chose to wear the pro-LGBTQ+ armband.
England captain Harry Kane said: “We’re disappointed. We wanted to wear it, that decision was taken out of my hands.”
Meanwhile, Sky News presenter Roy Keane told ITV: “The players could have worn the OneLove armband for the first game and taken their punishment.
“That would have been a great statement, take your yellow card and the medicine and move on. You don’t wear it for the second game as you don’t want to get suspended.”
He added: “England and Wales should have stuck to their guns and gone through with it.”
Former Rugby Union referee Nigel Owens, who came out as homosexual in 2007, defended the players of England and Wales for not wearing the armbands on Newsnight.
Twitter user @reallouisdicko criticised the players saying: “Great work lads. No better way of making a stand by…checks notes doing nothing.”
Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire, Mr Owens said: “Credit to them for wanting to wear it and I think people have to not point the finger at the players or the FAW or the Football Association of England.
READ MORE: So much for England’s bravery – all it took was a yellow card threat
“There is only one body and fault here and that is FIFA in that last minute in threatening players with a yellow card for wearing it.
“It’s totally understandable why the players didn’t wear it and there is no blame on them whatsoever.”
Football pundit and former professional football player Alex Scott was praised for choosing to wear the armband while she presented her commentary on television from Qatar.
As a woman who has not openly declared her sexuality but has had relationships with both men and women, she has been praised as “brave” for her actions which the players did not do.
Twitter user @westendhannah said: “Alex Scott having bigger balls than the men’s players is not surprising, she is in a country where she could be imprisoned for her sexuality and is here wearing the armband like she is. We love you Alex, thank you.”
Over a third of Christmas shoppers plan to cut budget this year (POLL)
NATO response to Poland missile incident divides Britons (INSIGHT)
Should Prince Charles make Edward the Duke of Edinburgh POLL (POLL)
Comedian Sarah Keyworth added: “This is the reason queer people hate performative corporate allyship. The virtue signalling.
“The rainbow sandwiches and pride flag toothbrushes. We all know that when silence is more lucrative, you’ll all keep your mouths shut. Good on you @AlexScott thank you for being so brave.”
Mr Owens noted that while it was a shame the players did not wear the band, he believes it “has highlighted the issue and given it more publicity that it would’ve done if they had worn the armband”.
He added: “Hopefully a lot of good will come from this and hopefully FIFA will take a long hard look at themselves…They have certainly let themselves down.”
Another social media user concluded: “FIFA is a disgrace and the FA should have more courage, shame on them.”