England boss Gareth Southgate has spoken out to express his sadness and anger at the situation LGBTQ+ football fans are facing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
And the Three Lions boss has urged organizers to go further – much further – to prove that everyone is welcome in a country with an appalling human rights record. Southgate will reach out to its players this week to enlighten them on some of these issues.
He will shed some light on those facing women and the LGBTQ+ community in particular – issues that are likely to put off so many Three Lions supporters, at least for now.
Southgate said: “I’m pretty aware of the problem areas of this tournament. Building the stadiums was the first and there is nothing we can do about that now. You are built. There are evidently ongoing concerns about workers’ rights and the conditions in which they live and in these areas.
“There seems to be general acceptance that this is better than it was, but not in the position that people think it could be. And perhaps established policies are not always enforced as they could be. Then there are the issues that may threaten our fans when travelling: women’s rights and in particular the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Unfortunately, based on my discussions, I don’t think some of these communities will go and that’s a huge shame. We stand for inclusion as a team and it would be horrible to think that some of our fans feel like they can’t go because they feel threatened or are concerned for their safety.
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“There needs to be some clarity and better communication that they’re going to be safe because they don’t feel that. So what we’re going to try to do with players is to emphasize that we think these are going to be the key areas. Maybe there are one or two others. We have to prepare the players as much as possible to make the best possible decisions.”
Amnesty International has accused the FA of being overly complacent on human rights issues in Qatar. But Southgate added: “I don’t think any of us are complacent about that. I definitely take it very seriously. I want to make sure players are protected, I want to make sure they can use their voice properly.
“But I also don’t want them maybe used with broader agendas. So it gets complicated. And we will get criticism for everything we do, but we will try to do our best. FIFA has decided where this tournament will be played and we are traveling to a country that is culturally and religiously different.
“So there are some things that we cannot control. Maybe there are some things we can influence. If we can and we think it’s worth it, then we’ll try. One of my priorities is without a doubt our own fans and how to deal with them in particular.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/gareth-southgate-qatar-lgbtq-fans-26507679 Gareth Southgate admits 'awful' situation LGBTQ+ England fans are in at the World Cup