Ten European football teams – Netherlands, England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales – will participate in the season-long “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and anti-discrimination.
With the exception of Sweden and Norway, all countries have qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and each of the captains of those eight nations will wear the OneLove armband, featuring a heart in the colors of all origins, during the tournament.
The Netherlands FA, which pioneered the campaign, chose colors to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities; the armband will be used in Qatar, where same-sex relations are a criminal offence.
Sweden and Norway will take part in the initiative in their upcoming Nations League matches, while England will also wear black armbands for two UEFA Nations League matches in honor of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“It’s an important message that suits football: everyone is equal on the field and it should be like that in all parts of society. We express this message with the OneLove team,” said Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk.
“On behalf of the Dutch team, I have been wearing this band for a long time. It’s great to see that other countries are joining this initiative.”
OneLove was founded in the Netherlands in 2020 to emphasize that all soccer fans have at least one thing in common, the love of soccer, and to speak out against any form of discrimination.
In addition to targeting public messaging, the initiative has also been developed to provide diversity training to the local club.
“The love for football unites us all. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like and who you love. Football is for everyone and our sport must stand up for people who face discrimination and exclusion all over the world,” said Germany captain Manuel Neuer.
“I am proud to send this message with my colleagues from other national teams. Every voice counts.”
In June, England captain Harry Kane revealed that he had discussed taking a collective stand on human rights in Qatar with Denmark captain Christian Eriksen and France captain Hugo Lloris.
“I am honored to join my national team captains in supporting the important OneLove campaign,” he said on Tuesday.
“As captains we will all compete against each other on the field, but we are against all forms of discrimination. This is even more important at a time when division in society is common. Wearing our arms together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.”
The idea for this particular campaign was born out of the UEFA Working Group initiative, which was created in response to concerns about Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.
Homosexuality is currently illegal in Qatar, punishable by up to three years in prison, and as the Guardian reported last year, 6,500 migrant workers died in the country in the ten years after Qatar hosted the tournament in 2010, most of them. involved in low-wage, dangerous work, often done in extreme heat.
The report – denied “categorically” by tournament organizer CEO Nasser Al Khater – did not link all 6,500 deaths to World Cup infrastructure projects and has not been independently verified by CNN.
In an interview on CNN last year, Al Khater also pointed to Qatar’s recent reforms to its labor structure.
“We continue to support 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 the UEFA Working Group on Human Rights, we are encouraging FIFA to develop an update of the Migrant Workers Center concept in Qatar to provide advice and support to migrant workers. It is clear that Qatar has introduced progressive legislation in recent years to give workers rights, so this concept will help to enforce this legislation.’