Welsh FA Chief Executive slams FIFA for not delivering 'inclusive' World Cup
'We were told this was going to be a really inclusive, welcoming, warm World Cup - that's not what I've seen, I have to say'
The Chief Executive of the Welsh Football Association has told ITV News he is ‘furious’ with FIFA over its ‘terrible decision’ to ban players from wearing ‘One Love’ armbands at World Cup matches.
Noel Mooney said FIFA had threatened to impose sporting sanctions, including "yellow and red cards", at the very last minute - on the day Wales were due to play their first World Cup match in 64 years.
"Months and months we've known that we were going to wear the One Love armband. (FIFA) certainly did, and to lay that one on us is pretty cheap and pretty low to be frank, and we're really disappointed by that attitude."
Mooney told us he understood why fans were upset with the football association’s decision to instruct its captain not to wear the OneLove armband, but says FIFA’s actions left them with no choice.
"There was no way we could ask Gareth Bale to take a yellow or red card at his first World Cup, how could we do that? We didn't back down at all actually - we had to look at the sanctions there, we said we would accept any sanctions that came, but when it came to specific sporting sanctions that would have stopped our players taking the field of play potentially, that's a different thing."
The Welsh FA has made an outspoken attack on the organisers for clamping down on players wearing inclusive armbands, as Steve Scott reports
Mooney told us he feels angry on behalf of the fans too.
There was excitement in the air on Monday night as they arrived at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, eager to watch Wales competing in a World Cup for the first time since 1958.
But we spoke to a number of fans who told us they had been stopped at security and ordered to remove their rainbow coloured bucket hats or face being turned away.
Mooney described the way those fans were treated as "appalling."
He said, "We were told this was going to be a really inclusive, welcoming, warm World Cup. That's not what I've seen, I have to say."
He told us that FIFA has assured him the order "didn’t come from them", but said he was still waiting for written clarification that fans will be able to "wear what they wish" when they walk into the stadium on Friday for Wales’ second group game against Iran.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.