Southgate says Qatar issues will be addressed at World Cup

MANCHESTER, England — England coach Gareth Southgate doesn’t expect his players to refrain from talking about human rights issues at the World Cup in Qatar.

Speaking when announcing his 26-man squad for the tournament on Thursday, Southgate added that a decision has yet to be made on whether his side will take a knee before games in a position against the racism.

FIFA wants participating nations to focus on football at the World Cup, despite concerns over attitudes towards LGBTQ fans and the treatment of migrant workers.

But Southgate doubts it is possible to avoid being drawn into a debate over the wider issues surrounding the tournament in Qatar.

“I think it’s highly unlikely,” Southgate told a news conference. “We have always spoken about issues that we think should be addressed, especially those that we think we can affect. Contrary to a sighting or two over the past few weeks, we have spoken in the same way as other nations spoke about this tournament, the challenges of human rights, we were very clear about our point of view on this.

“I think we would like to focus mainly on football. For every player, every coach and everyone who goes to a World Cup, it’s a football carnival. It’s the thing you work for all your life and you don’t. I want that to be mitigated by everything that’s going on around her right now. But we recognize that we’re going to be in this situation, we have to accept it and deal with it.

England are part of a group of 10 nations, including eight World Cup teams, who have pledged that their captains will wear One Love anti-discrimination armbands, which breaks the rules written by FIFA.

“When it comes to the LGBT community, we stand for inclusivity and we’re very, very strong on that,” Southgate said. “We think it’s important for all of our supporters.

“We understand the challenges this tournament brings. If it wasn’t for the strength of this community, we wouldn’t be European Women’s Champions. So that’s very, very important to us.”

Premier League players began taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. But this season they have chosen not to routinely make the gesture before every game, instead selecting specific occasions such as the finals of chopped off.

Southgate said no decision was made before Qatar.

“It will be a discussion that we will have with the players when we go to camp,” he added. “I always support what they want to do. I have a point of view, but I don’t want to influence them too much because I think it’s important that they have a say.”

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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James Robson is on https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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