England & Wales in talks over OneLove armbands
England, Wales and other European nations are in talks over whether to proceed with their plans for their captains to wear a OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar.
The captains of nine nations, including England’s Harry Kane and Gareth Bale of Wales , had planned to wear the armband to promote diversity and inclusion.
But they have been warned by Fifa officials that wearing the armband would be a breach of its rules and risk a “sporting sanction” for captains, such as a booking.
With England due to kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran at 13:00 GMT today, it remains unclear whether the Football Association (FA) will drop its plans for Kane to wear the armband.
Ehsan Hajsafi’s comments about the situation in Iran are extraordinary – not so much because of what was said but because of who has said them and where he said them.
He is Iran’s team captain – essentially the country’s football representative in this tournament. It would be unusual for a senior player to say anything political in a tournament like this – but for him to appear to side with the Iranian protestors and to acknowledge people in Iran are unhappy is significant.
Remember, he’s making these comments in Qatar the host of the World Cup and a key Iran ally. In the last few days, I’ve met a number of Iranian women here in Doha.
Some were happy to speak openly and angrily against what’s happening in their home country, others were more reticent – all said they wouldn’t support the Iranian team because it was linked to the Iranian government.
What Ehasan Hajsafi said today could change this notion. It’s unclear what the repercussion will be for him in Iran – he may be able to claim that he was expressing sympathy for policemen, rather than protestors, who have died. But this is a country where the authorities have violently cracked down on so many of those speaking out against oppression.
Hajsafi speaks out over conditions in Iran
Iran captain Ehsan Hajsafi spoke out against the situation in his home country before his nation’s opening game against England at the World Cup.
Mass anti-government protests in Iran have been met with a fierce crackdown in recent months.
Speaking to reporters ahead of today’s game in Qatar, the 32-year-old said the players “support” those who have died.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” he said.
Human rights activists have said more than 400 protesters have been killed and 16,800 others arrested in a crackdown by security forces. Iran’s leaders say the protests are “riots” orchestrated by the country’s foreign enemies.
“Before anything else, I would like to express my condolences to all of the bereaved families in Iran,” defender Hajsafi said at the start of the news conference.
“They should know that we are with them, we support them and we sympathise with them.”
BBC pundits have important conversation on Qatar
Also before yesterday’s opening game Gary Lineker and pundits Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams discussed the issues around the Qatar World Cup.