World Cup 2022 LIVE: England vs Iran build-up and updates from Three Lions opener

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Southgate confirms England players will take the knee before Iran WC opener

England are ready to go. They face Iran in their first encounter of the World Cup 2022 as Gareth Southgate’s men hope to qualify out of Group B.

Their recent tournament runs under Southgate have been impressive. They reached the semi-finals of the World Cup four years ago before losing in a penalty shootout to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 – not that we need reminding of that. With a core group of players set to play a part in all three tournaments can this campaign prove to be a long hoped for success or has Southgate’s team already passed their peak?

James Maddison is a doubt for the match after training away from the rest of the squad but everyone else should be fit to go. The manager may choose to start Kalvin Phillips in midfield to test his fitness and Southgate must also decide between a solid back three or a potentially more attacking back four as England’s best formation.

Today’s encounter is the first time England have ever played Iran in competitive football. Russia 2018 saw Iran record their best performance at a World Cup as they lost out on the knockout stages by just one point. The Iranians are 20th in the Fifa rankings and have an experienced squad to call on which could make this a tricky opener for the Three Lions.

Follow all the action from Qatar on our live blog below:

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England defender Eric Dier calls for football to be ‘cherished and looked after’

England defender Eric Dier believes it is essential football is “cherished and looked after in the right way” after saying it would be wrong to ignore off-field matters in Qatar despite it dampening players’ World Cup excitement.

The Gulf nation’s human rights record, treatment of migrant workers and oppressive LGBTQ+ laws have dominated the build-up to the 22nd edition of the tournament.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino took aim at European critics of Qatar on the eve of the World Cup in an extraordinary press conference that finished just before defender Dier spoke to the media.

Like his England team-mates and other players at this World Cup, the 28-year-old faced questions about issues in the host country beyond the football itself.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:29

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Everything wrong with the Qatar World Cup

Out of the many facts and figures circulated about Qatar’s problems, there is one realisation that should stand above everything. It is a disgrace that, in 2022, a country can host a World Cup where it has lured millions of people from the poorest countries on earth – often under false pretences – and then forced them into what many call “modern slavery”.

And yet this has just been accepted. The World Cup carries on, an end product of a structure that is at once Orwellian and Kafkaesque. A huge underclass of people work in an autocratic surveillance state, amid an interconnected network of issues that make it almost impossible to escape. “It’s all so embedded,” says Michael Page of Human Rights Watch.

Many will point to similar problems in the west but this isn’t the failure of a system. It is the system, global inequality taken to an extreme. “The bottom line is that these human rights abuses are not normal for a World Cup host,” says Minky Worden, also of Human Rights Watch.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:23

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‘We feel betrayed’ FSA responds to One Love armband decision

The Football Supporters’ Association has tweeted their response to the news that England, Wales and other European nations will now not wear the One Love armband saying that they feel ‘betrayed’ by FIFA for imposing sanctions on teams trying to support inclusivity in football.

Here is the full statement:

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:20

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James Maddison misses England training on eve of World Cup opener with Iran

James Maddison appears to be a major doubt for England’s World Cup opener after missing training on the eve of the Iran clash.

Maddison was the only player absent from training at England’s Al Wakrah Sports Complex base on Sunday afternoon.

The 25-year-old missed the Three Lions’ previous two open training sessions on Thursday and Friday due to what the Football Association called load management.

Maddison went off in the first half of Leicester’s win against West Ham last weekend with a knee complaint but said scans on the issue were fine.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:17

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England will not wear OneLove rainbow armband against Iran after Fifa sanction threat

England have confirmed they will not wear the OneLove armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community in their World Cup opener against Iran after Fifa threatened them with sporting sanctions.

Three Lions captain Harry Kane was due to wear the rainbow armband in a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised but the Football Association confirmed in a statement that they had backed down with Kane potentially set to be booked before the game even got underway.

In a joint statement, the FAs of England, Wales Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland – who had all been due to wear the armbands – stepped back from the previous decision:

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:12

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Gareth Southgate determined to bring World Cup joy to England fans

Gareth Southgate wants to bring World Cup joy to the nation at a challenging time by leading England on another “memorable” journey.

Having reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and finished as Euro 2020 runners-up, the Three Lions are among the favourites to triumph this winter in Qatar.

But the heat is on Southgate after England were relegated from the Nations League top tier during a six-match winless run they will hope to end in Monday’s Group B opener against Iran.

Clashes against the United States and Wales quickly follow as his players look to join Sir Alf Ramsey’s 1966 heroes as the only Englishmen to have ever won a major international trophy.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:07

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European federations decide against wearing One Love armbands

FIFA’s threats of sporting sanctions have cowed seven European football associations into backtracking on their desire to wear rainbow One Love armbands during the World Cup to support inclusion in football.

The FAs of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland released a joint statement this morning saying:

“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

Michael Jones21 November 2022 10:03

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England and Wales will not wear OneLove armbands

England and Wales won’t wear the OneLove armbands in Qatar after Fifa threatened to impose sporting sanctions on nations who decide to do so.

“We cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play,” reads a statement from the Football associations from England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 09:53

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Who are England’s best penalty takers? Shootout records and predicting order for World Cup

Remember the last time that we were on the eve of a major international tournament, England had learned how to do penalty shootouts? They had finally won one at a World Cup – beating Colombia in the last-16 in 2018 – then another in the Nations League a year later. Not only that, they had overcome this long-held hang-up thanks to the man responsible for the most painful penalty miss in English football’s history.

Correction: the most painful penalty miss in English football history up to that point. If Gareth Southgate’s failure to convert from the spot in a European Championship semi-final back in 1996 prolonged the many years of hurt, then Bukayo Saka’s miss in last year’s final was perhaps their most heartbreaking moment – particularly for such a young player, particularly when so close to winning a first major tournament in 55 years.

Southgate had enjoyed success in shootouts thanks to an approach based around practice, planning and research but defeat to Italy was a reminder that this is neither a game of pure skill or pure luck. You need both. And if Marcus Rashford’s spot-kick had been a couple of inches to the right, putting England 3-2 up with two to take, that night may have gone differently.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 09:46

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When will England play in the World Cup? Full schedule and fixtures

England face a showdown with neighbours Wales at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Spain and Germany have been drawn in a tough-looking Group E with Japan and either Costa Rica, while Portugal meet Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in a well-balanced Group H. Hosts Qatar will kick-off the tournament against Ecuador, before taking on Senegal and Netherlands.

The tournament Qatar begins on 20 November as 32 teams aim to reach the final and become world champions on 18 December. Because of excessive summer temperatures in the Gulf state, the Qatar World Cup will be the first to be staged in winter rather than summer.

Michael Jones21 November 2022 09:40

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