Campaigners urge the FA to question migrant worker deaths in Qatar ahead of next year’s World Cup… but Gareth Southgate says he will address alleged human rights abuse only after England have qualified
- Qatar will host the World Cup between 21 November and 18 December next year
- Treatment of migrant construction workers in Qatar has long been criticised
- The Gulf state has been blighted by various allegations of human rights abuse
- England’s FA have a controversial partnership with their Qatari counterpart
- Manager Gareth Southgate has vowed to address allegations concerning Qatar
Gareth Southgate has vowed that he and his England squad will address the issue of human rights in Qatar but only after they have qualified for next year’s World Cup, though human rights campaigners insist that the FA have a responsibility to speak out now about migrant worker deaths in the country.
England play Andorra on Saturday and Hungary three days later and are on track to securing their qualification for Qatar.
The tournament will shine a spotlight on alleged human rights abuses, notably among migrant construction workers.
Gareth Southgate has vowed to address the alleged human rights issue concerning Qatar only once England have qualified for next year’s World Cup
The FA has a controversial memorandum of understanding to ‘share knowledge’ with Qatar FA, but Southgate and England captain Harry Kane have said the squad would address the human rights issues after Norway, Germany and Holland’s national teams made on-pitch statements during qualifying matches with T-shirt slogans to draw attention to the subject.
Campaigners say the FA and Southgate should speak out now as thousands of migrant workers have died despite labour reforms.
Southgate said: ‘I think we will need to be informed. What I’m being told is that Amnesty International are clear that they feel that the tournament going ahead will shine a light on things.
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup between 21 November and 18 December next year
‘They’re not talking about the tournament being postponed or taken away. I think our players will, at the right time, want to know more.
‘But it’s also important that we are not just put in the middle of something for people’s benefit to try to expose us or embarrass us.
‘I don’t think we just want to wear a T-shirt or make a glib gesture without knowing more about what’s going on and being able to discuss it and maybe go and see things in the months that follow.
‘But in my head we’ve got to qualify first before we really talk in depth to the players about that issue.’
Norway were one of the teams to make on-pitch statements during qualifying matches
Nicholas McGeehan, director of human rights group FairSquare, has criticised the UEFA Working Party, which includes FA chief executive Mark Bullingham, after they visited Qatar in August.
McGeehan said: ‘The UEFA working party didn’t speak to any significant human rights organisations and that is a problem. These are the organisations that do the research.
‘It’s a concern if you say you’re going to talk to Amnesty and, based on a one-sided version of events you have heard, say there isn’t a problem and absolve yourself of responsibility to say something.
‘The FA are going to make a lot of money from the Qatar World Cup and the onus is on them to make certain basic calls to compensate those families. To say we’ll wait until we’re qualified isn’t good enough — they should be saying something now.’
Organisers of the 2022 World Cup have repeatedly refuted claims of human rights abuse