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Gareth Southgate ‘clearer’ on Qatar human rights issues and will talk to players

England Training – St George’s Park – Wednesday 1st September
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

England manager Gareth Southgate believes he is now “clearer” on the human rights issues dogging Qatar’s World Cup preparations as he prepares to talk to his players about the situation.

Concerns over the treatment of migrant workers and a poor human rights record have plagued the Gulf state since it was controversially awarded this year’s finals back in 2010.

World Cup organisers insist there have been just three work-related deaths since the construction of the majority of the stadiums began.

Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence and same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government, meaning some supporters are uneasy about travelling to Qatar when the finals kick off in November.

“When I was being asked those questions before Christmas, it was hard to get a real full understanding of exactly what are these issues,” Southgate said after naming his squad for England’s upcoming friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.

“I’m clearer now, I feel I can articulate that better to the players. We might get some other people within the FA to help with that but we’ll see the best way of approaching that next week.”

Lusail Stadium

Lusail Stadium is one of the grounds that has been built for the World Cup (Heath Holden/PA Media)

Southgate will address his players once they meet up at St George’s Park to train ahead of the double-header.

He admits it is “not a good situation” that some fans might feel uncomfortable attending the World Cup and that the issues are “too complex” for a simple statement from the Football Association to cover off all of the intricacies.

“Certainly within the FA we’ve done a lot of research and that’s going to be ongoing because of course the world is changing all the time and situations in every country are changing all the time,” he added.

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“We think it’s important to prepare the players in the best possible way, their full understanding of what’s going on.

“From a personal position, there are clearly human rights issues that are of concern. A lot of those issues, I don’t think you should be sitting waiting for a statement that’s going to cover everything.

“I think it’s too complex for one statement to cover all the issues. The basis of it would be that I don’t think we’ll be talking to the players about anything that isn’t fundamentally what we stand for anyway.

“We want a game that’s inclusive. It’s not a good situation that we’ve got certain parts of our fan base who might feel uncomfortable travelling to the World Cup. There have obviously been issues with the building of the stadiums.

“We can’t affect that now. There are ongoing concerns about workers’ rights, so I think it’s important that we give the players that background, that understanding, because when we talk about human rights, it’s a very broad subject.”

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