England captain Harry Kane will wear an armband for the OneLove campaign during matches at the Qatar World Cup. (Getty)
England captain Harry Kane will wear a rainbow anti-discrimination armband at World Cup matches in Qatar, where LGBTQ+ identities are criminalised.
Kane and captains from several other countries that qualified for the World Cup – including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Wales – will wear the OneLove armband during their matches in Qatar.
He will wear the armband, which features a heart design with multiple stripes in various colours, for the first time on Friday (23 September) night’s Nations League match against Italy.
The campaign comes as multiple advocates, fans and groups have voiced concerns over Qatar’s alarming track record on human rights, including its persecution of LGBTQ+ people.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and being found guilty of same-sex relations can result in a lengthy prison sentence. Qatar also runs courts under Sharia law where technically it is possible for men to face the death penalty if they are found to have engaged in same-sex intimacy.
Kane said he’s “honoured” to join his fellow national team captains in supporting the “important OneLove campaign” and stand in solidarity against discrimination.
“As captains, we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination,” Kane said.
He continued: “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.”
England’s Football Association (FA) said it is also continuing to request more detail on assurances given by the local organizing committee that all fans – including those from the LGBTQ+ community – will be safe and welcome in Qatar.
Queer football fans have been told to use “common sense” when attending the World Cup, which kicks off in November. The Football Association of Wales confirmed in July that talks with organisers were still ongoing but they were told “everyone is very welcome” as it “will be an inclusive World Cup”.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said he was also lobbying football’s global governing body FIFA for an update regarding a compensation scheme for migrant workers in Qatar and the creation of a centre to help them access support.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Amnesty International called on FIFA to create a compensation fund of at least $440 million for the “hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses” during preparations for the Qatar World Cup.
The sum is equivalent to the prize money offered to teams at the World Cup.
Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of priority campaigns, welcomed the announcement but said the FA 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”.
“The FAs 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,” Jakens said.
This is not the first time that Henry Kane has come out supporting the LGBTQ+ community. He wore a rainbow captain’s armband to mark the end of Pride month in 2021 as the Three Lions stood in “allyship with LGBT+ communities around the world”.
Kane vowed in March to help “shine a light” on the litany of human rights issues in Qatar as he thought it would “send out a bigger and more powerful message” to the global community.
“It is part of the responsibility of a team captain,” he said. “It is important to talk about these things and not just hide away from them.”