On Monday, the England football team were planning to wear One Love armbands to show their support to LGBTQ+ fans however, they changed their mind after it was revealed FIFA would impose a yellow card to anyone who wore it. Later in the week, the German team covered their mouths and wore rainbows on their kit in support of LGBTQ+ rights. Speaking about the protests, John Barnes told Ben Shephard and Ranvir Singh on Good Morning Britain, it wasn’t good enough.
The former footballer claimed players were “virtue-signalling” and if they really cared, they would have refused to play in Qatar.
He remarked: “If we don’t respect their laws, don’t go.
“If footballers don’t feel or they feel they want to do something be it an armband or being outspoken, and they’re not allowed to, make a stand and say, ‘I’m not going because I really believe in this.’
“But they really don’t.”
Referencing the German team’s protest, John continued: “Once again you have a lot of virtue-signalling going on.
“I don’t know whether the Germans before the World Cup were speaking out for the LGBT community in any great degree as the Australians or if in their everyday lives they’re greatly concerned about it.
“Or because the cameras are now there, they’re trying to make a statement.
“Of course, straight after the World Cup, I don’t think they’re going to be talking about it.
“I believe fighting against discrimination is not part-time, it’s every day, not every time the World Cup comes around and the camera [are] on us, we say something.
“Let’s get on with the football, while we understand there are problems there, there are problems here.”
Many ITV viewers praised John for his comments, with Luc Baldwin posting: “Absolutely perfect, well said John Barnes.”
@Pataryee tweeted: “One sensible man on TV for the week!!!”
Mr D continued: “Mr Barnes couldn’t say it better. Why everyone waited this long to have a voice?
“I would love to go but like Qatar if you are not wanted in the country just don’t go.
“It’s a shame we all don’t have the same energy for the human rights of people in the country.”
“Not this flimsy protest that changes nothing. Qatar/Fifa are still making $$ bvs people are there and watching.” (sic)
The Barking Dog added: “Agree totally with John, it’s good to see someone talking sense on the media for a change and not afraid to speak his principals.”
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays on ITV at 6am.