Sport minister Stuart Andrew to wear OneLove armband to England v Wales game

The UK's sport minister insists he will wear a controversial "OneLove" armband to England's crucial World Cup match against Wales.

Conservative Stuart Andrew, who is gay, risks upsetting his Qatari hosts by sporting the rainbow-coloured armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

But he told ITV News he would make a stand as the home nations play one another in their final group stage fixture on Tuesday night.

Mr Andrew said: "I will most definitely be wearing the OneLove armband. I want to show support, and I was delighted to see that the German minister who attended a recent match has worn it.

"I think it is important that I do so, and I think it's been really unfair on the England and Welsh team that at the 11th hour they were stopped by FIFA from doing it."

German minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser wore a One Love armband in Qatar. Credit: PA

The wearing of the armband, and gestures in support of other minority groups, have been the source of much debate since the World Cup began amid controversy over Qatar's human rights record.

England captain Harry Kane had been due to wear an armband for his side's opening game against Iran, in a gesture designed to promote diversity and inclusion in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are outlawed.

But the decision was reversed at the last minute after governing body FIFA threatened to impose sporting sanctions.

The Germany squad later had a team photograph in which the players covered their mouths with their hands, in an apparent protest at being gagged from speaking out about human rights issues.

Mr Andrew, the MP for Pudsey in West Yorkshire, said the laws in Qatar meant that LGBTQ+ fans were excluded from the World Cup.

He said: "These games should be a celebration show and for all football fans to enjoy, enjoy. But sadly, so many of them are feeling that these are not.

"This is not a tournament for them. I met with LGBT football supporters, and it was really distressing to see actually how emotional they got that they couldn't be. They didn't feel they could be part of this and that is not acceptable."

Mr Andrew has previously spoken publicly about his own experiences of homophobia. In 1997 he was attacked on Anglesey, where he grew up, and knocked unconscious by three men. He did not report the attack to the police."You know, those days were were horrible and we have come such a long way," he said. "But I do feel for those of the people around the world that are still living that existence, it's just not fair."There is a spotlight being shone on a very important issue here. And it would be remiss of me as and equalities minister and as a gay man not to ensure that that spotlight continues to shine, not just on what's happening with the World Cup, but more broadly in other countries around the world."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.