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Eriksen in full support of Denmark wearing OneLove armband

Denmark captain Simon Kjaer will wear the distinctive OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Denmark's defender Simon Kjaer (R) and Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen attend a training session in Helsingor, Denmark, on September 20, 2022, two days ahead of the UEFA Nations League Group 1 football match between Croatia and Denmark. (Photo by Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT

Christian Eriksen says Denmark captain Simon Kjaer will defy FIFA and wear a OneLove rainbow armband at the World Cup regardless of the consequences. Captains of 10 European sides are expected to wear a distinctive heart-adorned armband in Qatar, promoting diversity and inclusion in a country where same-sex relationships are prohibited.

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On Saturday, FIFA announced its own armbands will feature a different social campaign, including Save the Planet and Bring the Moves, throughout each round of the tournament in the Middle East.

However Eriksen confirmed Denmark will stick with the OneLove initiative as Kasper Hjulmand’s side prepare for Tuesday’s Group D opener against Tunisia. “I think we as a country are wearing it, our captain will be wearing the OneLove armband and then what the consequences will be, I don’t know but we’ll see,” the midfielder told reporters. “And apart from that, we are here as footballers and we are going to play football. Of course, we want to help what we can, but in the end I’m on this stage because I play football. That’s really my focus, and it’s our focus at this tournament.”

Heart issues behind him

The Manchester United player is set to appear on FIFA’s global stage less than 18 months after suffering a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s European Championship clash with Finland.

“I’m just happy to be back. Especially to be at the World Cup. I’ve been lucky to play in one or two before, but it’s special,” Eriksen added. “It’s a big tournament, it’s very difficult to qualify. We are dreaming of something big, but in the end, we have to get there. In football terms, we’ll take one game at a time, and we will see where we end up.”

Hjulmand’s side will aim to advance from Group D, which also includes world champions France and Australia, though Eriksen acknowledged it will be a difficult challenge. “We know it’s a tough group. Some teams we played a lot and some teams like Tunisia, we haven’t played before,” he said. “It’s a World Cup, so it’s fun to test ourselves against teams we haven’t played before.”

Denmark have beaten France twice already this year in the Nations League, and Eriksen said he did not know whether that would influence the upcoming encounter. “Normally, France in a tournament is a different team compared to the rest of the year,” he said. “We know what to do, and we look forward to it.”