England national team boss Gareth Southgate claims that his players can’t do much to make changes in Qatar. The Middle Eastern country has been under fire in recent years due to the migrant worker crisis. While building infrastructure ahead of the upcoming World Cup, there have been reports of abuse and death. Qatar also currently criminalizes same-sex relationships.
England powerless over Qatar’s human rights abuses
Speaking ahead of the team’s defeat to Italy on Friday, the coach insisted that he has done his homework. “I’ve done a lot of research, I’ve spoken with a lot of people from the human rights lawyers to the migrant worker group that I met out in Qatar,” said Southgate.
“The FA have done a lot of due diligence with the NGOs [non-governmental organizations]. So there were certain requests that were made in terms of areas we might raise, talk about and support. I think what the FA have tried to do yesterday is put those on the table.”
Southgate also discussed the decision for to wear OneLove captain armbands. England, along with nine other European teams, will wear the armbands throughout the remained of the year. The rainbow armbands help promote diversity, equality, and inclusion.
“Then, separate to that, is the armband,” continued Southgate. “That’s an agreement between several European nations where we felt it was a collective stance that again would lead to people having discussions and talking about these issues.”
“The people I’ve spoken to have explained to me – human rights lawyers in particular – that there’s not a lot more the players can do than talk about those issues and put them on the table. In the end, we are asking for change in a country we are respectful of, that has made a lot of progress, but also we don’t have any control over.”
Kane: England are handcuffed
Team captain Harry Kane also claimed that players were essentially handcuffed. “There’s only so much the players can actually do,” stated Kane. “I think by wearing the armband on the biggest stage in the world, one of the most televised events in the world, will have an impact. But we can only do what we can and we’ve definitely taken a step forward to help some of the issues out there in Qatar.”
Earlier in the week, the FA urged FIFA to compensate the migrant workers and their families. It remains to be seen how the sport’s governing body will handle this particular issue. Earlier reports suggested that 6,500 people died in Qatar while building stadiums for the World Cup. The government, however, claimed that these numbers were inflated. Qatar has said that 37 workers died between 2014 and 2020.
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