England captain Harry Kane will wear a OneLove multicolored armband in this month’s Nations League games and at the World Cup in Qatar as part of a campaign “to promote inclusion and send a message against discrimination of any kind”.
The initiative was launched by the Netherlands, and is supported by England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales, whose captains will wear the armband in Qatar.
Same-sex relationships are criminalised in the Gulf State, which has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, particularly of migrant workers, since being awarded the World Cup in 2010.
Felix Jakens, of Amnesty International UK, said: “It’s welcome that the FA is actively seeking to promote inclusion and anti-discrimination, and important that this is extended to the World Cup.
“The FA’s pledge to support efforts to remedy abuses suffered by thousands of overseas workers in Qatar could be significant, but we still need to see whether this is seriously taken up either by the Qatari authorities or by FIFA.
“Human rights issues have plagued preparations for this World Cup, and we’ve previously been disappointed by years of FA reticence and over-optimistic statements about ‘progress’ in Qatar.
“Unexplained migrant worker deaths, workers being cheated of their wages and others working extremely long hours are just some of the issues that Qatar’s patchily-enforced labour laws are still failing to address.
“Today’s announcement is welcome, but the FA now needs to specifically support a FIFA compensation fund for abused workers and the families of those who’ve died to make the World Cup happen.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described the OneLove slogan as “too vague” and slammed the FA’s accompanying statement as “an embarrassment”.
“England Football’s public statement does not address Qatar’s specific discrimination against women and LGBT+ people,” Tatchell said.
“It only mentions LGBT+ fans in passing and completely ignores the restrictions on women’s rights.
“The statement misleadingly suggests that Qatar has made significant improvements in conditions for migrant workers. It neglects to mention unpaid wages, overcrowded slum hostels, workers who still cannot change jobs and that those who protested were recently arrested and deported. This statement is an embarrassment and whitewash.”
Liz Ward, director of programmes at LGBTQ+ organisation Stonewall, said: “We must remember that Qatar is country where LGBTQ+ people are persecuted simply for being themselves.
“Sadly, this year’s tournament is not safe for everyone, which is why it’s so important to see Harry Kane, alongside many other Captains, pledging to wear an anti-discrimination armband - even though the Rainbow itself is still banned.
“It will take more than armbands to end discrimination, but these are positive steps from the FA.”