Neville criticizes ‘rogue’ FIFA and asks why footballers have so many political responsibilities

Neville criticizes ‘rogue’ FIFA and asks why footballers have so many political responsibilities

Gary Neville wasn’t surprised to see short-term threats from FIFA to England if they wore the OneLove armband in their opening World Cup match against Iran.

Neville has been highly critical of FIFA, which he says is a “rogue organisation” that is not a “great face for world football”.

The captains of seven different European nations were planning to wear OneLove armbands to protest Qatar’s anti-homosexuality laws, but they all backed down after FIFA revealed on the eve of the tournament that they would receive yellow cards for doing so .

In an interview with ITV Sport, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said the disciplinary action the team could face from FIFA for wearing the armband was “unlimited”.

Bullingham told ITV Sport: “It’s very important that we understand what happened here. We were clear that we wanted to wear it and committed to it.

“We announced we would do it in September, we had a lot of meetings with FIFA during that time and on Saturday before the match we felt we had reached an agreement on where we would wear it. We didn’t have a permit, but we would have had to pay a fine.

“Unfortunately then on match day they gave us 10 minutes notice – two hours before we were due to go to the match… they came here with five referees and put us through a scenario where at least anyone wearing the armband would be booked and he would have faced disciplinary action on top of that.

“It was unlimited. They would take disciplinary action against any player wearing the armband as well as having a yellow card.

Bullingham said the FA interpreted this to mean players could face bans from further matches if bands were worn, not just a yellow card.

After seeing the footage Neville was asked what he thought and barged into FIFA but noted that England captain Harry Kane should have followed and put on the armband.

“That’s what I expected the FA to say,” Neville said on ITV ahead of the World Cup match between England and the United States.

“It doesn’t surprise me that FIFA have behaved like this, they are a rogue organization which I think in this particular tournament we have probably seen them at their worst, they don’t need to be like that, they represent world football, I don’t think they are a great face for world football, what will an armband really do to harm FIFA?

“I accept the fact that ultimately they have rules and laws against political protests, players can’t pull their shirts up.

“The reality is, I think they should have made it because they had talked about it so much and they backed into a corner.

“They also have a situation where football players are asked a lot nowadays, we have players in our dressing room like (Marcus) Rashford who have fought political battles and won.

“We have Raheem Sterling speaking four or five years ago about racism.

“But it always seems to be the footballers who are being asked to put themselves at the forefront, but every other sector of the country that has dealings with the Middle East or parts of the world where it is illegal to be gay, I agree continue to do what they they are doing.

“So, I’m proud of those guys who play for England. They are a good group. They’ve done more for English football and for England in the last four, five years than most.

“However, I think they probably should have pulled through because they backed into a corner. Once you say you’re going to do something, follow through with it.

Track England vs USA here.

READ NOW: Only Iran? It’s Cymru at home without another Bale out for woeful Wales


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