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Gareth Southgate says England will “take time to educate ourselves” over human rights issues in Qatar after sealing qualification for next year’s World Cup with a record-breaking 10-0 win here in San Marino.
Players from Germany, the Netherlands and Norway have held on-pitch protests against Qatar during qualification for next winter’s tournament and there have been calls for England to take a similar stand.
Southgate’s squad have made a difference on a number of social issues, from their continued taking of the knee to Marcus Rashford’s fight against child food poverty and Jordan Henderson’s support for the NHS.
The England manager described the Qatar issues as “hugely complex”, and referenced British business interests in the Middle Eastern country, but said the players would be given more information on the situation ahead of the finals.
“I’ve been in some conversations as part of an FA delegation with people from Qatar,” Southgate said. “So I’ve been trying to get a better understanding of exactly the situation. I think we’ll obviously take the time to inform the players a bit more about what’s going on.
“We have to be certain on who we should be speaking to, and exactly what issues are important, because it feels as if there are a lot. And it’s a very complicated situation for us. Because we obviously have to go and work with people, and represent the country in a foreign land, and when you’re doing that you’ve got to be 100 percent sure of your facts when you’re speaking. And that’s not easy at the moment, because it’s hard to work through what’s current, what’s present, what’s historic.
“We have a responsibility to represent our country in the right way. There are clear cultural differences between the two nations. And also we, as a nation, do a lot of business with Qatar as well. I was reading about Rolls Royce, 10,000 new jobs, heavy investment from Qatar into green machinery and a way of working. So it is hugely complex.
“But we will take the time to educate ourselves. And if we feel that there are areas that we can highlight and help, then clearly we’ve always tried to do that, and we would do that.”