Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Welsh players “will focus on football” and not protest like Germany did in Qatar, says Rob Page

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Page suggests “in hindsight” that German players did not protest Fifa’s decision to ban players from wearing OneLove armbands after they were defeated by Japan

The time to take a stand is over for the Welsh players, manager Rob Page protested ahead of his side’s crucial clash with Iran, insisting it was up to governments and football bodies to discuss broader matters.

Wales have been at the center of two controversial issues in Qatar. They were one of several nations to reverse their pledge to wear the OneLove bracelet to promote diversity and inclusion, while Welsh fans wearing rainbow bucket hats were barred from entering the stadium ahead of the World Cup opener against USA this week .

Fifa issued a statement on Thursday saying fans will be admitted with Iran in their hats on Friday, but Page wanted to stay clear on whether his players would support other campaigns, claiming Germany might be of theirs Distracted trying to raise awareness ahead of their shock defeat to Japan on Wednesday.

“We have campaigns running which we fully support as an association and as the Welsh Government,” he said.

“I want my players to be fully focused on playing football games and winning games. I’m sure that in hindsight, Germany will probably have the same message.

“We have passed that on to the Federation and the Welsh Government, along with everything that has now surfaced about our staff not being let in with bucket hats.”

Wales captain Gareth Bale has been a little more dismayed by what has happened in Qatar so far but also wanted to play before his expected 110th birthdayth Appearance for his country – making him the all-time most capped player for Wales, one ahead of Chris Gunter.

“We weren’t very happy not being able to wear it (the armband) but obviously it was difficult with the sanctions that were going to be imposed which ultimately meant I would have been sent off after about 25 minutes” said Balle.

“Of course we support that over here, but we have to play football at the same time. Just because we haven’t worn it doesn’t mean we don’t support the message – we’re all about inclusivity.”

While most of Bale’s team-mates arrive in the middle of their domestic season in the best of shape going into the crucial clash with Iran – where the winner would put themselves in a strong position to reach the round of 16 – Bale’s workload in MLS has been much lighter strict .

However, according to Page, two games in a short time is not a problem for the veteran. “Yeah, lucky you didn’t pick him,” Page said.

“He’s fit and can’t wait, I can tell you that. “I’ve said many times he’s the ultimate pro. He hasn’t stopped since the final whistle (against USA), he’s recovering. He has his own little parts today. He knows what his body needs.”

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