DAN WOOTTON: England should now stop taking the knee and focus on the football

FIFA is a morally corrupt organisation devoid of even the slightest hint of what’s right or wrong.

Yet today it so easily burst the bubble of the Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate-led England team’s carefully curated image of being woke warriors as nothing more than a virtue signalling mirage.

The international football body’s decision to threaten Captain Kane with a yellow card, as well as meaningless financial sanctions, if he wore a rainbow armband during our first match of the much-maligned 2022 Qatar World Cup against Iran was a cruel stroke of genius.

It forced the FA into immediately deciding that England’s apparently highly prized social justice values would be thrown out the window the moment there was the mere suggestion of sporting consequences.

In a gutless statement, the FA said: ‘We have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armband in FIFA World Cup games. We cannot put our players in a situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.’

It was so damned important to Kane and the players that they just couldn’t stop talking about the awfully named OneLove armband…until he might be handed a yellow card. Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, this is not.

So despite the storming 6-2 performance this afternoon, I’m embarrassed for them all, which is not how a fan should feel after such a brilliant opener.

FIFA is a morally corrupt organisation devoid of even the slightest hint of what’s right or wrong. Yet today it so easily burst the bubble of the Harry Kane (pictured today) and Gareth Southgate-led England team’s carefully curated image of being woke warriors as nothing more than a virtue signalling mirage

FIFA is a morally corrupt organisation devoid of even the slightest hint of what’s right or wrong. Yet today it so easily burst the bubble of the Harry Kane (pictured today) and Gareth Southgate-led England team’s carefully curated image of being woke warriors as nothing more than a virtue signalling mirage

The international football body’s decision to threaten Captain Kane (pictured) with a yellow card, as well as meaningless financial sanctions, if he wore a rainbow armband during our first match of the much-maligned 2022 Qatar World Cup against Iran was a cruel stroke of genius

The international football body’s decision to threaten Captain Kane (pictured) with a yellow card, as well as meaningless financial sanctions, if he wore a rainbow armband during our first match of the much-maligned 2022 Qatar World Cup against Iran was a cruel stroke of genius

Of course, the tiny rainbow flag was nothing more than a pathetic stunt to assuage the guilt of the right-on players for agreeing to be part of a tournament in Qatar where being gay is punishable with a seven-year prison sentence (or worse) and women are still treated legally and practically as second-class citizens.

It’s the exact same reason the England team decided to continue with the now farcical BLM-inspired gesture of taking the knee before kick-off in a stadium that literally saw poverty-stricken immigrant workers die during its construction in a human rights atrocity that cannot be solved by gesture politics.

Predictably, the BBC loved it, with commentator Guy Mowbray gushing that the kneeling was ‘sending a strong statement to go around the world, to young people in particular, to see that inclusivity is very important’.

That’s nothing more than propaganda.

If inclusivity truly mattered to Southgate, Kane, the FA or the BBC, they simply would have refused to travel to play in or broadcast from Qatar.

But I’m a realist and understand money trumps morals in international sport.

What I cannot stand is all of these holier than thou celebrities and organisations preaching to us while earning millions off the back of the evil Qatari tournament.

As a gay man, I refuse to play the identity politics games of the left so, while I think the decision to award the tournament to Qatar in the first place was reprehensible, I don’t judge any football fan, player or media commentator who made the decision to attend for work.

It forced the FA into immediately deciding that England’s apparently highly prized social justice values would be thrown out the window the moment there was the mere suggestion of sporting consequences. Pictured: Harry Kane of England takes a knee prior to today's FIFA World Cup match

It forced the FA into immediately deciding that England’s apparently highly prized social justice values would be thrown out the window the moment there was the mere suggestion of sporting consequences. Pictured: Harry Kane of England takes a knee prior to today’s FIFA World Cup match

David Beckham (pictured today) loved posing on covers of gay magazines and claiming he’s a feminist while becoming the official face of Qatar to promote tourism for a cool £10 million

David Beckham (pictured today) loved posing on covers of gay magazines and claiming he’s a feminist while becoming the official face of Qatar to promote tourism for a cool £10 million

However, I will not let the hypocrites who are prepared to take the Qatari millions while pretending to be morally superior think they can continue to preach to us about school dinners, homophobia or girl power.

Their platform to lecture and berate about the way we live our lives should now be removed forever more.

The worst offenders include the official airline Virgin Atlantic which trumpeted its socially liberal approach while flying England to the tournament before admitting its non-binary uniform policy didn’t actually apply when travelling to Qatar.

Then there’s Labour’s new leftie pin-up boy Gary Neville spending all day on Twitter explaining why Conservative voters are morally bankrupt while accepting a multi-million-pound deal to take money from the Qatari regime to commentate for its official broadcaster.

And David Beckham who loved posing on covers of gay magazines and claiming he’s a feminist while becoming the official face of Qatar to promote tourism for a cool £10 million.

Not to mention the BBC thinking it’s somehow being courageous by refusing to show the tournament’s opening ceremony on TV but allowing Gary Lineker to make highly politicised commentary instead, despite spending years insisting he’s not a news and current affairs presenter to allow him to spout leftie talking points on Twitter.

The Qatar World Cup is the ultimate lesson in the danger of footballers and celebrities connected to the sport attempting to become moral arbiters, writes Dan Wootton (pictured)

The Qatar World Cup is the ultimate lesson in the danger of footballers and celebrities connected to the sport attempting to become moral arbiters, writes Dan Wootton (pictured) 

These jokers can try and kid themselves all they want, but none of their moral arithmetic adds up.

Their virtue signalling should be rendered meaningless from this moment on because, when it comes to their own pocketbooks or careers, they won’t practice what they preach.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who had the balls to visit Qatar and protest at great risk to his safety before the tournament, had a practical solution today as an alternative to the meaningless stunts.

He proposed: ‘I urge the team captains at their post-match press conferences to spend just 30 seconds to speak out for the rights of women, LGBTs and migrant workers. That would have a huge impact, reaching a global audience of hundreds of millions of people.’

But I’d preferably like to see the England team shut up and play.

The Qatar World Cup is the ultimate lesson in the danger of footballers and celebrities connected to the sport attempting to become moral arbiters.

The failed rainbow flag virtue signalling and insistence on continuing to take the knee when the rest of the world has long realised that BLM is not an organisation that inspires confidence in anything is testing my patience.

You’ve proven today that you’re very good at the goals but not very good at the civil rights campaigning.

As always, I’m willing the Three Lions on, against all odds.

So just play the bloody game – entertain us, enthral us and leave the two-bit student politics at the door.

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