Southgate insists England will speak with freedom at Qatar World Cup amid human rights concerns

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Gareth Southgate does not want the World Cup to be "diminished" amid human rights concerns in Qatar but the England manager vowed to continue discussing issues "we think should be talked about".

The 2022 World Cup has come under repeated scrutiny before the November 20 opener, with concerns cited over the human rights standards in a country where same-sex relationships are prohibited.

FIFA aimed to quieten the discussion around the global tournament in the Middle East, penning a letter telling the 32 teams to "now focus on the football", but it was met with a backlash.

Southgate has repeatedly acknowledged the criticism of Qatar hosting the World Cup and he cannot foresee England adhering to FIFA's demands when the opportunity arises to vocalise their opinions.

"We have always spoken about issues we think should be talked about, particularly the ones we feel we can affect," Southgate said on Thursday after announcing his 26-man squad.

"Contrary to one or two observations in the last few weeks, we have spoken in the same way other nations have spoken about this tournament, the human rights challenges.

"We've been very clear on our standpoint on that. So, look, I think we would like to focus primarily on football. For every player, every coach and everybody travelling to a World Cup, this is a carnival of football.

"It is the thing you work for this your whole life and you don't want that to be diminished by everything else that is going on around it currently.

"But we recognise we are going to be in that situation, we've got to accept and deal with it."

England captain Harry Kane will be among 10 skippers to wear a distinctive rainbow heart-adorned armband at the tournament, raising awareness for the OneLove campaign against discrimination.

Southgate previously pinpointed the role of gay players in the Women's Euros triumph for England earlier in the year and reiterated his desire for inclusivity across the world.

"So regarding the [LGBTQ+] community, we stand for inclusivity and we are very, very strong on that," he said when asked about Qatar's same-sex relationship laws. "We think that is important in terms of all our supporters.

"We understand the challenges this tournament brings within that. If it wasn't for the strength of that community, we wouldn't be women's European champions. So it's very, very important to us."

He hopes hosting world football's showpiece event will help educate Qatar and inspire change within the country.

"I think we have seen that. There have been improvements, there has been change," he added.

"We have released statements already saying that change could improve in certain areas and we are very clear on that.

"But I think the process of the World Cup being in Qatar will of course put them under the spotlight and that will be uncomfortable for them.

"At times that will be a bit harsh for them, but I think the whole thing has improved certain areas that I think everyone will recognise has helped."

England start their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21 before facing United States and Wales in Group B.