In the mother of all ironies, UK players kneel before World Cup match as US players remain standing

There has been all sorts of virtue signaling at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and Friday was no exception leading to outrage from both sides when some players took a knee for “inclusivity” ahead of England’s matchup against the United States, and some didn’t.

The woke spectacle of international sports descended upon the host nation of Qatar with all the typical accoutrements one might expect for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament. Rowdy and dedicated fans with otherwise harmless displays and traditions may have caused some stirrings of their own, but they were readily outshone by the effort taken to seemingly protest discrimination and racism.

As the game was set to begin between England and the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) a bevy of footballers from the European team could be seen momentarily kneeling as kickoff proceeded anyway. While some suggested the move was supporting Black Lives Matter, the announcer could be heard saying it was to “promote inclusion across the globe.”

The momentary display was quickly brought to an end however as play began leading ultimately to a draw between the opposing sides. Despite America being the start of the trend with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem in protest only to pick up greater steam following the death of George Floyd in 2020 while in police custody, the USMNT players remained standing.

This was the second kneeling protest conducted by England players after they had taken a knee during their matchup with Iran earlier in the week. Team coach Gareth Southgate had forewarned that his players intended to take a stance in Qatar and told reporters, “We feel we should. We think it’s a strong statement that will go around the world, especially for young people, that is important.”

While that virtue signaling could have been taken as an act of solidarity with the protests currently taking place in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who had been arrested for violating modesty laws by not wearing a hijab, which Iranian player Ehsan Hajsafi had come out in support of, the repeated move ahead of the USMNT match solidified the broader messages of diversity and inclusion. As such, there were as many reactions on social media from those infuriated with the Americans for not taking a knee.

Of course, the rivalry between the nations that has gone on since the founding extended past the bout in Qatar to the threads of Twitter as fans took shots at one another backing the respective nations.

These acts followed previous plans from players to wear a rainbow themed “one love” armband during play to support the LGBTQ community despite laws in the host nation criminalizing homosexuality. Players were forbidden to do so after arrests were threatened.

Kevin Haggerty


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