England women’s football captain, Leah Williamson, has said her squad will stand for inclusivity, highlighting the importance of “standing in solidarity” with those facing discrimination.
Williamson’s comments come ahead of her team wearing the “OneLove” armband at this month’s Arnold Clark Cup.
Williamson said that the consistency of the team’s stance would not change and that the team is committed to promoting inclusivity and equality.
She added that the squad has always had a positive impact on society and that the team would continue to fight against discrimination in football and society in general. Williamson hopes that the armband will send a positive message to anyone who disagrees that football is a place for everybody.
The ‘OneLove’ armband had been planned to be worn by England and Wales during matches at the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year, but they were dissuaded from doing so as the tournament got underway following the threat of sporting sanctions from FIFA.
When asked if the armband would be discussed for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Williamson said the team wanted to promote these values all year round and that they had previously done so.
Williamson was also asked about recent reports that Saudi Arabia’s tourism authority would be an official sponsor at this summer’s Women’s World Cup. FIFA declined to comment on the Saudi Arabian issue when contacted by PA.
New Zealand Football has joined with Football Australia in writing to FIFA to urgently clarify the situation. Williamson said that as players, the team constantly makes clear statements about the society they want to live in, and ultimately the decision is not in their hands.
“We’re never shy in saying what we stand for,” Williamson told a press conference.
“We’re a squad that promotes inclusivity, equality, we obviously have a number of people that feel very strongly about it. I think it’s not even a question for us really.
“You’ve just seen another men’s player step out and be as brave as they can be and potentially change their whole life, they don’t know what’s coming.
“So for us to stand also in solidarity with that is important to us. It’s something we’ve always done, it’s something we’ll continue to do.
“We’re not just impacting football, we’re trying to have a positive impact on society and that’s one of the ways we can do that.
“I think the main thing for us is it’s always been a value that we’ve stood by, so the consistency there won’t change, it’s something we believe in, it’s a journey the world is on that isn’t quite where we want it to be yet, so it’s something we’ll continue to fight for.
“And I think Jakub as well, he was a main factor, but as always, I think it (the armband) stands against discrimination of any form. If you stand with that then you want to eradicate that discrimination from the game, and I hope… it’s a positive message to anybody that disagrees that football is a place for everybody.”