World Cup 2018: England players 'should wear protest armbands'

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Image copyright Reuters
Image caption England wore black armbands in memory of Ray Wilkins and ray Wilson ahead of their World Cup warm-up win over Nigeria

England should wear black armbands during the World Cup to protest against the Russian regime, an MP has said.

Labour's Stephen Kinnock said the Fifa tournament is a "massive propaganda coup" for Russia.

Fifa bans players from wearing political, religious or commercial symbols and the FA has previously been challenged over UK teams choosing to wear poppies near to Remembrance Day.

The FA said it would not respond to the suggestion from the MP for Aberavon.

After the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March, Mr Kinnock told a parliamentary debate Russia should be stripped of the right to host the tournament.

The UK government blamed the Russian authorities for the nerve agent attack - which also injured a police officer.

Mr Kinnock said: "We are using the beautiful game to launder the reputation of a dangerous authoritarian regime and that poses some major questions.

"We should think creatively about what we might be able to do to send a message."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fifa has previously said players are banned from wearing poppies

Mr Kinnock said pulling England out of the World Cup "would have been wrong" as it would have made it seem as if there were only an issue between Russia and the UK.

He said there are universal human rights norms of which Russia is in violation.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption England, who were visited by the Duke of Cambridge ahead of their last warm-up match, will start their World Cup against Tunisia on 18 June

Wearing black armbands would "mark the death" of Alexander Litvinenko, who died after being poisoned in London in 2006, as well as the attack on the Skripals, he said.

He acknowledged such a move would see the FA "probably sanctioned by Fifa", but added: " At some point we've got to make a decision about the role and responsibility of football in the world."

The MP, who worked in Russia for three years as director of the British Council, said footballers have a big social media following and are "role models".

He said: "It would great if they were able to say 'we're here in Russia now, but what's happened on the streets of the United Kingdom raises concerns for all of us. An attack on one is an attack on all'."