Gareth Southgate calls for united approach among rival nations in raising equality issues at Qatar World Cup

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 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Gareth Southgate says it is important to have “collective standpoints” between rival nations as England continue to weigh up how best to highlight alleged human rights abuses in Qatar during this winter’s World Cup.

The decision to stage the tournament in Qatar has been hugely controversial because of the Gulf nation's stance on the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as its treatment of the migrant workers employed to build stadia and infrastructure, with a Guardian report last year claiming that more than 6,500 had died in the country since it was awarded the right to host the World Cup in 2010.

England’s players were briefed on the situation, which Jordan Henderson called “horrendous” and “shocking” during the last international break in March, and are expected to make some form of protest during the tournament, with captain Harry Kane saying he hopes to “shine a light” on the issue.

While the Three Lions are yet to decide exactly what that action will look like, a number of countries including Norway, Germany and the Netherlands have already made stands by wearing sloganed t-shirts ahead of matches and Southgate has called for a unified response when the World Cup gets underway.

“I was in Qatar for the draw and I met with some of the workers and had a long discussion,” he said. “I’m back out there in a few weeks as well and the FA are doing things.

“I know Harry’s had conversations with some of the other captains as well because we think that some collective standpoints would be important, to have that consistency.

“I don’t think countries are wanting to outdo each other or pick each other off, they’re trying to do something that would try to make a difference, if possible. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”

England have just three matches left before the tournament gets underway in November, the first of which comes on Tuesday night against Hungary at Molineux.

The game will finally mark the end of a marathon season for Southgate’s players and will be played in front of a full crowd after Saturday’s drab 0-0 draw with Italy was played behind-closed-doors as punishment for the trouble around last summer’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

“To have fans back is fantastic, we’re really looking forward to that,” Southgate added. “It’ll give the team a lift of energy, which I think at this stage is helpful. I know how much the people of Wolverhampton are looking forward to the game and hosting us.

“We represent England not, with respect, Brent, Wembley, London. I live in the North, I’ve lived in the Midlands, I’ve lived in the South, I’ve worked in the North East. We’ve got proud football people in every region in our country so when they get the chance to walk down the road and see the England team play that’s very special. When we’ve taken the team on the road, the support we’ve had has been unbelievable.”

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