England will not be silenced on human rights issues
FIFA has asked nations participating in the World Cup to only focus on soccer and not to discuss human rights issues, but England will not be silenced.
In a letter to the participating nations in the 2022 Qatar World Cup, FIFA asked teams to focus on soccer and to stop “handing out moral lessons”.
A nice try, but in vain. At least as far as Gareth Southgate and his England squad are concerned. Ever since Qatar was selected as the host nation for the 2022 World Cup, there has been much public attention and outcry regarding the country’s human rights abuses, specifically surrounding the LGBTQ community, women’s rights, and the treatment of the foreign laborers who helped construct the eight stadiums where the tournament will be played.
“Regarding the LGBT community, we stand for inclusivity and we’re very, very strong on that,” said Southgate. “We think that’s important in terms of all our supporters, and we understand the challenges that this tournament brings with that.”
England is one of several teams who have spoken out about the human rights abuses, including taking a knee at games, which they also did at the Euro 2020 as a stand against racism. And they don’t plan to stop now.
“I think that’s highly unlikely,” said Southgate, in regard to whether England would be going along with FIFA’s request to talk only about matters regarding the sport. “We have always spoken about issues that we think should be talked about, particularly the ones we feel we can affect.”
“We have spoken in the same way that other nations have spoken about this tournament and the human rights challenges. We’ve been very clear on our standpoint on that.”
England captain Harry Kane will wear an armband supporting the OneLove anti-discrimination campaign when he plays in Qatar. Within the Premier League, the captains made a decision to take a knee before specific games rather than every game. This included the opening round, Boxing Day, the final round, the FA Cup, and the Carabao Cup finals. Whether or not they will perform the gesture at the World Cup has yet to be determined.
“That will be a discussion we have with the players when we get to camp,” said Southgate. “I’m always supportive of what they want to do. I have a view, but I don’t want to influence them too much because I think it’s important that they have a voice and they have a say in that.”