England and six other federations feared that their captains could have been issued a red card, and that there was essentially “unlimited liability”, had they worn the OneLove armband in their opening World Cup matches.There wouldn’t even have been the prospect of an iconic photo, as any sanction would have been administered before the teams set out onto the pitch.
It was for this reason that the federations were keen to take the decision out of the players’ hands, and not put them under any pressure.The relatively small gesture of the armbands - a protest against Qatar’s laws and attitude to LGBTQ+ groups - has become one of the biggest issues in a hugely controversial World Cup.
The German federation have already accused Fifa of “extreme blackmail” in discussions, and there was a genuine fear that it could have seen players such as Harry Kane, Virgil van Dijk and Gareth Bale suspended.The England squad were discussing next steps in their team meeting on the eve of the match against the USA at Lusail Stadium, but the view is that they don’t want to rush into an ill-conceived gesture just to follow other sides.
Germany covered their mouths for their official team photo before the Japan match to signify how they’d been “silenced”, to go with strong public statements.“We’ll talk about these sorts of things,” John Stones said. “We don’t want to get carried away with what other people are doing.Read more on independent.co.uk