The Wembley Stadium arch was lit up with rainbow colours during England’s World Cup meeting with USA in Qatar on Friday night.
The captains of seven nations, including England and Wales, had been due to wear the rainbow-coloured anti-discrimination “OneLove” armbands at the World Cup this week, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised. However, the plans were dropped when it became apparent in the hours before England’s first match of the finals against Iran on Monday that sporting sanctions would be imposed.
It is understood a booking to the captain wearing the band would have only been the starting point of the sanctions, with Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and the other five skippers also set to have been prevented from entering the pitch wearing it.
Germany protested against Fifa’s stance by covering their mouths for a team photo before their match against Japan on Wednesday, to highlight how they felt silenced. Wales decided not to protest before their 2-0 defeat against Iran on Friday, and England continued to take the knee prior to the goalless draw with the United States.
The FA tweeted shortly before kick-off: “Tonight, as the #ThreeLions take on USA, we are lighting the @wembleystadium arch in rainbow colours to show our support for inclusivity within our game. Football is For All.”
Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out, responded to a tweet suggesting the OneLove captains faced “unlimited liability” over the armbands and wrote on Twitter: “What Fifa did is beyond failing to live their values and is a sinister abuse of power designed to silence – hence the German gag protest.
“I guess if you hang around with autocratic dictators long enough, you start picking up some of their habits.”
Additional reporting by PA