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England team land in Qatar on Gay Pride jet ahead of World Cup 2022

England’s World Cup squad have landed in Qatar as the countdown continues to the tournament getting underway.

Gareth Southgate’s side left the national team training ground at St George’s Park this morning and headed out onto the team coach, where a huge group of supporters were waiting to cheer them on.

They headed from their Staffordshire base to Birmingham Airport, where they stepped onto their flight to Doha. 

And on Tuesday evening, the squad touched down in the Qatari capital ahead of their World Cup campaign getting underway against Iran next Monday. 

They are arrived at around 8.30pm local time in Qatar (5.30pm GMT) and the players looked in a relaxed mood as they exited the plane.

The squad will now complete a light training session this evening, before serious preparations get underway at their Al Wakrah training facility on Wednesday ahead of next Monday’s tournament opener.

England arrived in Doha on a Gay Pride jet – a ‘Rain Bow’ Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus – in a show of defiance over the host nation amid concerns over the treatment of LGBTQ+ people at the tournament. 

England’s squad landed in Qatar on Tuesday evening as their preparations for the 2022 Qatar World Cup ramp up

England manager Gareth Southgate arrives in Doha after England's flight touched down in the Qatari capital

England manager Gareth Southgate arrives in Doha after England’s flight touched down in the Qatari capital

England begin their World Cup campaign against Iran on Monday, before further group fixtures against the USA and Wales

England begin their World Cup campaign against Iran on Monday, before further group fixtures against the USA and Wales

England captain Harry Kane exiting their plane after landing in Qatar - he is just three goals away from being the nation's all-time record goalscorer

England captain Harry Kane exiting their plane after landing in Qatar – he is just three goals away from being the nation’s all-time record goalscorer

Manchester City pair Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker step off the plane as they arrive in Doha, with the latter recovering from injury in time to make the final 26-man squad

Manchester City pair Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker step off the plane as they arrive in Doha, with the latter recovering from injury in time to make the final 26-man squad

England's squad looked in a relaxed mood as they arrived at around 8.30PM local time (5.30PM GMT) in Doha

England’s squad looked in a relaxed mood as they arrived at around 8.30PM local time (5.30PM GMT) in Doha

England's Men's Player of the Year and Arsenal star Bukayo Saka arrives ahead of the World Cup starting on Sunday

England’s Men’s Player of the Year and Arsenal star Bukayo Saka arrives ahead of the World Cup starting on Sunday

Southgate is heading into his third tournament as England boss since he took over from Sam Allardyce back in 2016

Southgate is heading into his third tournament as England boss since he took over from Sam Allardyce back in 2016

 

The squad looked in good spirits after the six hour and 40 minute flight as they boarded a bus at the airport after landing

The squad looked in good spirits after the six hour and 40 minute flight as they boarded a bus at the airport after landing

Callum Wilson (left) and James Maddison, who both won their last England cap back in 2019, arrive in Qatar in good spirits

Callum Wilson (left) and James Maddison, who both won their last England cap back in 2019, arrive in Qatar in good spirits

England will use the training facilities at Al Wakrah Sports Complex during the World Cup and undergo a light session on Tuesday evening before serious preparations begin on Wednesday ahead of next Monday's opener with Iran

England will use the training facilities at Al Wakrah Sports Complex during the World Cup and undergo a light session on Tuesday evening before serious preparations begin on Wednesday ahead of next Monday’s opener with Iran

England's travelled to Qatar on a plane called the 'Rain Bow', pictured at Birmingham Airport on Tuesday ahead of their flight

England’s travelled to Qatar on a plane called the ‘Rain Bow’, pictured at Birmingham Airport on Tuesday ahead of their flight 

The aircraft features a picture of Oscar, a cartoon man holding a Union Jack flag while wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, beneath the cabin

The aircraft features a picture of Oscar, a cartoon man holding a Union Jack flag while wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, beneath the cabin

FA chiefs proposed the idea of the Gay Pride plane to highlight concerns over gay rights in Qatar, where same-sex relationships remain a criminal offence and whose World Cup Ambassador last week said homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’.

Anyone found participating in same-sex sexual activity in Qatar can be punished by up to seven years in prison, while there are also concerns about thousands of migrant workers having died in Qatar since it won the rights to host the World Cup.

Earlier, they had heard a rousing speech from Prince William and received encouragement from a large group of young fans as they departed St George’s Park.

Addressing the players, Prince William said: ‘What you and Gareth have built here is something special, that’s clear to see.

‘Play for each other, support each other, enjoy it, and I’m sure you’ll go far.’

‘I’m really here to point out the rest of the country is behind you, we’re all rooting for you. Enjoy it.’

The England squad looked in good spirits as they boarded the coach and prepared to fly to Qatar ahead of their game against Iran in six days time. 

Manager Gareth Southgate delighted the excited young crowds as he walked past holding a coffee. 

England players pictured at Birmingham Airport on Tuesday morning as they board their flight to Qatar and the World Cup

England players pictured at Birmingham Airport on Tuesday morning as they board their flight to Qatar and the World Cup

The England players, dressed in blue tracksuits, step onto their plane to Doha at a soggy Birmingham Airport on Tuesday

The England players, dressed in blue tracksuits, step onto their plane to Doha at a soggy Birmingham Airport on Tuesday

England's Virgin Atlantic jet takes off at Birmingham Airport as the players and staff make their way to Qatar

England’s Virgin Atlantic jet takes off at Birmingham Airport as the players and staff make their way to Qatar

The England team left St George's Park on Tuesday morning bound for the World Cup in Qatar after a send-off by young fans

The England team left St George’s Park on Tuesday morning bound for the World Cup in Qatar after a send-off by young fans

Even heavy rain couldn't dampen spirits as the England party headed to the airport for their flight to Qatar on Tuesday

Even heavy rain couldn’t dampen spirits as the England party headed to the airport for their flight to Qatar on Tuesday

Speaking before they departed, England captain Harry Kane said: ‘I’m excited. The World Cup is a special occasion. Obviously we’re flying out today. So I’m really excited. 

‘For most professional players, its the biggest tournament you can play in. I’ve been lucky enough to do one and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. And I can’t wait to get out this weather and get some sun!’

After the players boarded the two coaches, they set off for the airport as the eager fans waved their flags and chanted ‘England! England! England!’.

The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time

The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time 

Prince Williams offered words of encouragement to Kane (right) and the England players as they departed for Qatar

Prince Williams offered words of encouragement to Kane (right) and the England players as they departed for Qatar

England captain Kane spoke before the squad departed for their flight to Qatar on Tuesday morning

England captain Kane spoke before the squad departed for their flight to Qatar on Tuesday morning

A group of young England fans were waiting to give the Three Lions an emotional send-off outside St George's Park

A group of young England fans were waiting to give the Three Lions an emotional send-off outside St George’s Park

Prince William pictured with the England players heading out to the World Cup at St George's Park on Monday

Prince William pictured with the England players heading out to the World Cup at St George’s Park on Monday 

The Prince of Wales chats to Manchester City star Jack Grealish during the pre-World Cup departure royal visit on Monday

The Prince of Wales chats to Manchester City star Jack Grealish during the pre-World Cup departure royal visit on Monday 

Newcastle striker Callum Wilson also spoke before leaving and reflected on his inclusion in the World Cup squad. 

He said: ‘Over the moon. You work hard as a football player to try and get opportunities like this and it’s one that you grasp with both hands.

‘Life’s all about timing. I’ve had three years away. The pinnacle of my career was scoring on my debut for England. It’s a moment I want to add to. Going to a World Cup, there’s great opportunities to go and make history.’

England open their campaign against Iran on Monday before further group stage matches against the United States on November 25 and Wales on November 29. 

Kalvin Phillips boards the team coach at St George's Park ahead of their trip to the World Cup, cheered on by flag-waving fans

Kalvin Phillips boards the team coach at St George’s Park ahead of their trip to the World Cup, cheered on by flag-waving fans

England defender Harry Maguire shared an Instagram snap from the plane alongside goalkeeper Jordan Pickford

John Stones was seated next to Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker on the flight

England defender Harry Maguire (left) shared an Instagram snap from the plane alongside goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, while John Stones was seated next to Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker on the flight (right)

Chelsea star Mason Mount climbs the steps to England's Virgin Atlantic flight to the Middle-East ahead of the World Cup

Chelsea star Mason Mount climbs the steps to England’s Virgin Atlantic flight to the Middle-East ahead of the World Cup

Declan Rice, the England midfielder, looked in a happy mood as he headed off to the World Cup with his team-mates

Declan Rice, the England midfielder, looked in a happy mood as he headed off to the World Cup with his team-mates 

FIFA has urged countries to focus on football during the competition, but Southgate has said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that England will do so.

He said: ‘We’re very strong on inclusivity. We understand the challenges that this tournament brings . . . the human rights challenges.

‘We’ve always spoken about issues we think should be talked about, particularly ones we feel we can affect.’

In an emotionally-charged speech on the eve of their World Cup departure, Southgate urged his players to write their own history.

The Three Lions boss addressed his players and staff, urging them to seize the opportunity to win the country’s first World Cup since 1966.

Despite a poor UEFA Nations League campaign this year, England head to Qatar as one of the tournament favourites having reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and also the final of last year’s European Championship.

England manager Gareth Southgate was all smiles as he boarded the flight from Birmingham Airport to Qatari capital Doha

England manager Gareth Southgate was all smiles as he boarded the flight from Birmingham Airport to Qatari capital Doha

James Maddison boards the England team plane as the Three Lions jetted off to Qatar for the World Cup on Tuesday morning

James Maddison boards the England team plane as the Three Lions jetted off to Qatar for the World Cup on Tuesday morning

Prince William presented signed England shirts to the players, including West Ham's Declan Rice, on Monday

Prince William presented signed England shirts to the players, including West Ham’s Declan Rice, on Monday

England manager Gareth Southgate smiles as the players model Marks and Spencer clothing in a photoshoot on Monday

England manager Gareth Southgate smiles as the players model Marks and Spencer clothing in a photoshoot on Monday

And Southgate genuinely believes England have a chance of winning the World Cup for the second time and urged the current crop to become the best in history.

Players spent much of Monday undertaking promotional work with kit suppliers Nike while squad members underwent light recovery sessions ahead of their departure for Doha at 10am on Tuesday.

The FA also organised for a mystery guest to attend Monday’s festivities at St George’s Park, as Southgate looked to tap into his players psychologically.

During the Euros, singer Ed Sheeran visited England’s training centre to perform a special set for the players.

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