Munroe Bergdorf speaks out on England team armband controversy: “A backbone is a must”

"Abandoning your role as an ally once you start to see what LGBTQ people are actually up against, is not allyship, it's cowardice"

Munroe Bergdorf has hit out at the England team for backing down over plans to wear the OneLove armband at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

England, Wales and other European nations had planned to sport the armband to promote LGBTQ+ rights, but will no longer do so after FIFA warned that it could result in players being booked.

The armband – which features the rainbow colours associated with the Pride Flag – was intended to deliver a strong message to Qatar, where same-sex relationships are illegal.

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Prior to England’s opening group game against Iran, actor Ray Winstone pleaded with captain Harry Kane to ignore FIFA’s warning and wear the armband.

Now, transgender activist and model Munroe Bergdorf has also shared a lengthy post on her Instagram page calling on the team to step up, arguing that “a backbone is a must”.

Taking aim at the England team, she wrote: “If the parameters of your allyship begins and ends when the oppression of others starts to impact your own experience of privilege – you may as well just refer to yourself as a fairweather friend and call it a day. Allyship is in your actions.

“Abandoning your role as an ally once you start to see what LGBTQ people are actually up against, is not allyship, it’s cowardice. Allyship is not about convenience, self-interest or opportunity. It is about helping to lessen the burden of marginalised groups by standing WITH us against systems of oppression.”

Bergdorf continued: “If you stand with us, you need to be prepared to be in the line of fire of the systemic oppression, as are we, oppression that is designed to silence, erase, gatekeep, ostracise, marginalise and demonise us. As queer people, we do not get to pick up and put down who we are. Most of us don’t have the privilege of saying ‘I just don’t fancy doing this today’.

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“Allyship is not about downing tools when the consequences of that allyship becomes a burden to you too, one that impacts your privilege. True allyship is about fighting for what’s right for others as a continuum, not fighting for others only when it’s convenient.”

Her comments come after comedian Joe Lycett made headlines this week by appearing to throw £10,000 into a tree shredder, in protest at David Beckham’s involvement in the World Cup. Last week, Lycett criticised Beckham’s role as a tournament ambassador, which has reportedly netted him £10million.

In a video message, the comedian offered to donate £10,000 of his own money to queer charities if Beckham ended the sponsorship before the tournament started. If not, he promised he would shred the cash on the opening day of the tournament and, although it looked like he did at first, he later confirmed that all the cash had actually been donated to charity.

Many other artists have spoken about the tournament in the run-up, with Rod Stewart saying he turned down almost £1million to perform at the World Cup, saying “it’s not right”, while Robbie Williams responded to criticism for being booked to perform at the Qatar World Cup.

Dua Lipa also recently denied rumours that she was to be involved, calling on Qatar to fulfil the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the tournament, while Maluma, the singer of the 2022 Qatar World Cup anthem, stormed out of an interview after being accused of “whitewashing” regarding the host country’s human rights record.

Others have called for a boycott of the World Cup.

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