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European nations launch ‘One Love’ diversity campaign

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England will stand alongside nine other European countries to support a new ‘One Love’ campaign promoting inclusion and equality at this year’s World Cup in Qatar and beyond.

The initiative, created by the Netherlands, will also be supported by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales aiming to “send a message against discrimination of any kind as the eyes of the world fall on the global game,” the English Football Association (FA) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The FA’s support will begin on Friday’s Nations League match against Italy in Milan, when captain Harry Kane will wear the OneLove armband featuring a heart containing colours representative of all backgrounds.

“I am honoured to join my fellow national team captains in supporting the important OneLove campaign,” Kane said. “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 will send a clear message when the world is watching.”

All eight European nations that have qualified for the World Cup will wear the armband throughout the tournament with an intention to continue doing so for the rest of the season.

Qatar was a hugely controversial choice for the finals when it was awarded the 2022 tournament 12 years ago, not least because same sex activity is a criminal offence there with the possibility of a prison sentence of one to three years for adults convicted of consensual gay or lesbian sex.

There is no recognition of civil partnerships in the Gulf state, which does not allow people to campaign for LGBT+ rights.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and FairSquare have highlighted these issues as well as the treatment of migrant workers.

The FA also said on Wednesday it has lobbied FIFA for an update on the introduction of a Migrant Workers’ Centre in Qatar to support new legislation for workers.

Some migrant workers have been invited to England’s training base in Al Wakrah to meet Gareth Southgate and his squad.

The FA has been in dialogue for more than a year with numerous human rights organisations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations [NGOs] to prepare for Qatar 2022 and get a balanced understanding of the key issues in the country and wider region.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “Along with the other members of the UEFA Working Group on Human rights, we are pushing FIFA for an update on the concept of a Migrant Workers’ Centre in Qatar, to provide advice and help for migrant workers.

“It is clear that Qatar has brought in progressive legislation in the last few years to give workers rights, so this concept will help this legislation to take effect.

“We have met a variety of workers in Qatar on our visits to the country and whilst they recognise the substantial progress there are areas in which further support would make a huge difference.

“We continue to push for the principle of compensation for the families of migrant workers who have lost their lives or have been injured in construction projects. Again, we are pushing FIFA for an update on the compensation fund which has been consistently referenced as a safety net where workers and their families have been unable to secure compensation from the construction companies.”

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