Gareth Southgate doesn’t want to get drawn into competitive virtue signalling at the World Cup.
The England manager’s side was one of seven clubs to back down on having their captains wear OneLove armbands during their opening games this week after FIFA threatened sporting sanctions, and though the 52-year-old coach is keen to share support for the LGBTQ+ community at the tournament in Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal – he doesn’t want to risk overshadowing the focus on the game.
He said: “I noticed the Danish coach speaking after their game and he felt he hadn’t got enough bandwidth to deal with the football.
“I think that’s the risk that we’re all running. I’m quite comfortable with our position and I think we should be confident in what we stand for. What we think we can affect.
“There was a plan [before Iran], we weren’t able to carry out. What do we do now? Do we all try to out-do each other on a gesture that might actually be…however we do it, probably won’t be enough. Probably could be criticised.
“Do we make a better video than Australia? That would be difficult because it was brilliantly done. Do we have to come up with a better gesture than Germany did?
“We want to support the LGBTQ community in particular and recognise that a lot of those people aren’t here with us, and we wanted them here with us.
“But we could also rush into doing things that don’t land well and don’t really make any difference and take a lot of time and energy away from where we need to be now.”
His comments were echoed by defender John Stones, who insisted England won’t be looking to copy sides like Germany – who all posed with their hands over their mouths
in their team photo before their game against Japan – with particular gestures.
He said: “We don’t want to get carried away with what other people are doing.
“We want to stay true to our own values, but at the same time we do want to make things heard and aware of how we feel. We want to get everyone’s opinion across in the right way. I feel it’s really difficult at the minute to do that without upsetting peoples’ rules or whatever it might be. There’s a really fine line with all this and so far we’re trying to stick to our values and what we believe in as a team, to make sure we don’t get pushed over.
“We are so privileged to be able to make an impact in these kinds of ways. It’s literally a little conversation about something tonight and all having the same view on it which we do pretty much every time, so I think we will take it from there and see what happens [on Friday].”
Originally published at www.femalefirst.co.uk