England boss Gareth Southgate questions benefit of boycotting World Cup in Qatar

Gareth Southgate and his England players held a meeting in regards to the issues surrounding the Qatar World Cup, with the Three Lions boss accepting they will be unable to satisfy everyone with their response

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England train ahead of friendly against Switzerland

England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted he is unsure the benefit of boycotting this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.

Qatar’s human rights issues have been in question for a number of years and are being magnified even further, just eight months away from the opening kick-off. Southgate and his players held talks at St George’s Park earlier this week in regards to the issues in the Middle East country and how they will respond.

A report published in the Guardian in 2021, suggested that as many as 6,500 migrant workers have died during construction of the stadiums, since FIFA awarded the nation its biggest competition back in 2010.

And while Southgate has spoken on the “complex” and “complicated” issues surrounding the tournament, he doesn’t believe that pulling out from it, would have the kind of impact many would anticipate. “I don’t really know what that achieves,” Southgate explained. “It would be a big story but the tournament would go ahead.

“The fact, unfortunately, is the biggest issue, which is non-religious and non-cultural, is what happened with the building of the stadiums – and there is nothing we can do about that either, sadly. We have known for eight years that this is going to be in Qatar. Is the stance against Qatar as a country? We are intertwined, as we are seeing with Russia, with all sorts of investment in this country.

“It is such a complex world of deals as we have also seen with Saudi Arabia. This is complicated, the issues themselves aren’t complicated. All the repercussions of diplomatic relations and dealing with other countries and other organisations are extremely complicated. It’s possible, but it’s not a decision that the players or myself would make.”

Gareth Southgate is unsure of the benefits of boycotting the World Cup in Qatar

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Earlier this week, Three Lions skipper Harry Kane said he would be in discussions with other captains from leading nations in order to formulate a unified response. Kane stated that he hopes to shine a light on some of the repressive issues in the country, which still deems homosexuality as illegal and has strict anti-LBGTQ+ laws.

“There are a couple of other national team captains at Tottenham and maybe talking to other national captains to see if we can be unified with what we can do and how we approach it. I think it’s really important,” Kane explained.

“As a nation we want our fans to enjoy the tournament as much as we hopefully enjoy the tournament. And we want them to feel safe and free to watch the games how they please and act how they want to act. It’s really important that discussions are being had and hopefully progress is being made because football is for all, football is for everyone and a World Cup is a great opportunity to show that.

England captain Harry Kane has said the World Cup is a good time to shine a light on the issues in Qatar

“There’s no bigger stage and Qatar will be on that big stage and the light will be shone on them. We want to be coming away after that World Cup with everyone having a really amazing experience.”

Southgate, who has not been afraid to discuss difficult political matters throughout his tenure as England boss, accepts that whichever decision he and his players reached, they will be unable to satisfy everyone.

He added: “Whatever we do we are going to be criticised. We are back out to Qatar for the draw and that means more chances to meet people on the ground. There are going to be things ongoing throughout the year, the players have stepped up to the plate on a number of issues. We have got to use our voice in the right way at the right time.”

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