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Berhalter sidesteps FIFA sanction controversy: “Our focus is on the game”

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter was full of praise for Gareth Southgate and England ahead of the Group B clash.

Roddy Cons
Enviado Doha, QatarUpdate:
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams were full of praise for England ahead of their team’s Group B clash.
Adam Pretty - FIFAGetty

One of the main talking points from the first few days of the Qatar 2022 World Cup has been the controversy surrounding the illegality of homosexuality and human rights issues in the host country. England, Germany, Wales and the Netherlands are amongst the nations who have ultimately chosen not to wear the ‘One Love’ armband after being threatened with fines by FIFA and even on-field sanctions, including yellow cards. The rainbow armband, which has been used in other international tournaments, had been proposed as a show of support for the LGBTIQ+ community. In the Germans’ case, their players complained about being censored and protested by covering their mouths during the team photograph before their 2-1 defeat to Japan at Khalifa Stadium on Wednesday.

The debate also came up during the USMNT’s press conference at the Qatar 2022 World Cup Main Media Center on the eve of their match against England in Al Bayt.”Everyone has the right to choose the way in which to express their opinions. We’ve been working on it ourselves since 2020. In all honestly, we’re in business mode right now. For us, our focus is on the game, on how to beat England and our next opponents”, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter told the media.

After their 6-2 thrashing of Iran on Monday, England boss Gareth Southgate offered a similar opinion: “People know what we stand for. I understand FIFA’s position to set a precedent and draw a line. In an ideal world, the situation would be clearer, but we have to focus on football.”

What did Gregg Berhalter say about Gareth Southgate and England

Berhalter was full of praise for Friday’s opponents in Al Bayt. “Gareth’s record has been very good in recent years. He’s done a great job with his team. Fourth in the last World Cup, runners-up in the Euros. They’re a formidable opponent. But it’s a fantastic opportunity for to us to show our quality.

“I’ve sent Gareth several WhatsApps but the blue tick hasn’t come up. We’ve taken a break. Our friendship will resume after tomorrow,” Berhalter joked about his relationship with Southgate.

USMNT captain Tyler Adams: We’re not intimidated by England

USMT captain Tyler Adams also spoke to the media and was asked about whether there was any kind of ‘intimidation factor’ surrounding England.

“Intimidated? No, I wouldn’t say that there’s anything that intimidates me, apart from spiders. We’re going to show what we’re capable of. Being underdogs or being favourites doesn’t mean anything to us. The only thing we need to do is train hard and that’ll allow us to show our quality,” stated the Leeds United midfielder, who joined Berhalter in wishing the journalists in the Main Media Center a happy Thanksgiving.

“What do I have to be thankful for? For my family. If they hadn’t made sacrifices, I wouldn’t be here. I’m happy to be able to spend the day with my teammates. It’s the first time that it’s happened in a long time. I almost always spend it just with my girlfriend. I’m lucky to be able to call these guys my family. It’s an exciting day.”