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Gareth Southgate keen to learn all he can about Qatar human rights issues

England Squad Announcement – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Tess Derry)

Gareth Southgate says he will try and learn all he can about the human rights issues in Qatar before heading to the 2022 World Cup.

England boss Southgate, who has signed a two-year contract extension until December 2024, will lead the Three Lions to the first winter World Cup, to be held in Qatar from November 21-December 18 next year.

Same-sex relationships are banned in Qatar, while the country has also been widely criticised for its treatment of migrant workers, who have helped build all the infrastructure required to host a World Cup.

The Lusail Stadium in Qatar, pictured during construction, is one of eight new stadiums built to host the 2022 World Cup

The Lusail Stadium in Qatar, pictured during construction, is one of eight new stadiums built to host the 2022 World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

“As the manager, I’m trying to educate myself far better into what’s going on in that part of the world,” Southgate said.

“I’ve got to make sure that factually I’m correct, that we understand both sides of the stories.

“We would look to try to help the players so they are as prepared as they can be for those discussions when they speak publicly.”

Southgate said he and his squad are “much more aware” of dealing with human rights issues after some of his players were racially abused during Euro 2020 qualifying matches in Montenegro and Bulgaria in 2019.

“This is slightly different in that this is another part of the world we’re going into and there are clearly things we read which we have concerns about,” Southgate added.

“But it’s not 100 per cent clear, all the information and the exact truth, where we are now, and what’s historic and what’s current.”

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said the 2022 World Cup had already driven positive changes in Qatar.

“The first point we always make is we are not perfect ourselves as a country and we have to establish that early on when we talk about other countries,” Bullingham said.

The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor is one of eight new stadiums built specifically to host the 2022 World Cup

The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor is one of eight new stadiums built specifically to host the 2022 World Cup (PA)

“I am on the UEFA working group on human rights and have been out to Qatar. We’ve met with the migrant workers and some of the charities out there as well.

“That’s helped us get a bit of a picture. We believe the legislation that Qatar have brought in over the last few years has been strong progress from a fairly low base.

“With the removal of the Kafala system and the installation of the minimum wage, bringing through standardised contracts for workers and a maximum temperature and lots of other steps forward in the legislation.

“What is very clear though is that the legislation has to be applied universally and that has to be the next step and that’s where we’ll see the real progress come through.”

When asked if the FA had been given assurances that it will be safe for fans from the LGBT+ community to visit Qatar for the World Cup, Bullingham said: “We absolutely have been given those assurances.

“We asked the question as to whether all of our fans will be able to come, specifically those from LGBT+ communities and we received an unequivocal answer that absolutely everyone is welcome to come to Qatar, including people from those communities.”