Eight European countries will take part in the diversity campaign during the World Cup in Qatar

All countries except Sweden and Norway have qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and each captain of these eight nations will wear a distinctive OneLove armband – which features a heart containing colors of all horizons – during the tournament.

The Dutch FA, which is spearheading the campaign, chose the colors to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities; the armband will be worn in Qatar where homosexual relations are a criminal offence.

Sweden and Norway will take part in the initiative in future Nations League matches, while England will also wear black armbands in their two UEFA Nations League matches to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II .

“It’s an important message that fits football: on the pitch, everyone is equal and that should be the case everywhere in society. With the OneLove group, we express this message,” said Virgil van Dijk, the captain of the Netherlands.

“On behalf of the Dutch team, I’ve been wearing this band for quite some time now. It’s good to see other countries joining this initiative.”

England captain Harry Kane wearing the OneLove armband.

OneLove was founded in the Netherlands in 2020 to highlight that all football fans have at least one thing in common – their love of football – and to speak out against any form of discrimination.

As well as focusing on public messaging, the initiative has also grown to provide diversity training to grassroots clubs.

“Our love of football unites us all. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what you look like or who you love. Football is there for everyone and our sport must stand up for people around the world who are facing the discrimination and exclusion,” said German captain Manuel Neuer.

“I’m proud to send this message along with my colleagues from other national teams. Every voice counts.”

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In June, England captain Harry Kane revealed he had discussed a collective stance on human rights in Qatar with Dane Christian Eriksen and French captain Hugo Lloris.

“I am honored to join my fellow national team captains in supporting the important OneLove campaign,” he said on Tuesday.

“As captains, we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination. This is even more relevant at a time when division is common in society. Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams sends a clear message when the world is watching.”

“We continue to defend the principle of compensation”

The idea for this specific campaign was born out of the initiative of UEFA’s task force, which was created to address issues surrounding Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.

Homosexuality is currently illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison, while the Guardian reported last year that 6,500 migrant workers had died in the country in the ten years since Qatar’s successful bid to host the tournament in 2010, most of whom were involved in low-paid and dangerous work, often carried out in extreme heat conditions.
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The report – ‘categorically’ denied by the tournament organizer’s chief executive, Nasser Al Khater – did not link the 6,500 deaths to World Cup infrastructure projects and did not has been independently verified by CNN.

In an interview with CNN last year, Al Khater also highlighted recent reforms Qatar has made to its working structure.

“We continue to push for the principle of compensation for the families of migrant workers who have lost their lives or been injured on construction projects,” said FA chief executive Mark Bullingham.

“Together with the other members of UEFA’s human rights working group, we are pushing FIFA to take stock of the concept of a center for migrant workers in Qatar, to provide advice and helping migrant workers. Clearly Qatar has brought in progressive legislation in recent years to give rights to workers, so this concept will help that legislation take effect.”