The 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar as planned despite calls for its boycott since its announcement in 2010.
The Gulf nation of Qatar is a target for human rights groups who claim that the nation stifles the rights of workers and the freedoms of people.
There have also been reports of migrant workers, especially, being treated as less than human by Qatari employers. Worse still, there have been reports that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died in constructing the beautiful edifices which will play hosts to the World come November-December 2022.
Many human rights groups and figures in the world of football have spoken about it, with a few of them even asking for FIFA to rescind Qatar’s hosting rights. Most recently, France and Manchester United legend Eric Cantona spoke out against it, and Louis Van Gaal, manager of the Netherlands national team also spoke against it.
The calls for the boycott of the World Cup are still going strong, and most of the football nations have been put under pressure to boycott for the movement to gain some more relevance.
The question was posed to England manager Gareth Southgate at the press conference before his side’s friendly meeting with Switzerland on Saturday, in which they came back to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Luke Shaw and Harry Kane after Breel Embolo opened the scoring for the Swiss national team.
“I don’t really know what that would achieve,” Southgate began. “It would, of course, be a big story, but this tournament would go ahead and the fact is, unfortunately, the biggest issue that is non-religious and non-cultural is what happened with the building of the stadiums. There is nothing we can do about that either, sadly.
“As soon as we have entered the tournament, that is the point we should decide what we have known for four years or eight years and is the stance against Qatar as a country.
“Should we protest against Qatar as a country or a specific issue? If it is Qatar as a country we are intertwined as we have seen with Russia.
“We have all sorts of investment in our countries. Are we all going to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s? The Shard. All sorts of property investment. We are in such a complex world of deals, as we have seen with Saudi Arabia.
“On one hand, people are talking about the investment in Newcastle, and on the other hand, we are going to them and asking them to reduce the oil prices so we can get our petrol cheaper, so we are all observing these things. It is really difficult and intertwined.”
Southgate believes actively protesting during the World Cup will be more effective than abandoning the tournament altogether.
Jordan Henderson, who attended the pre-match press conference with him also shared his thoughts on the matter.
“I’d obviously heard quite a lot of stories in the media anyway but it is hard to know what is true and exactly what is going on,” Henderson said.
“But when we were given the briefing the other day it is quite shocking and disappointing… it’s horrendous really when you look at some of the issues that have been happening there.
“That is why it takes some time to digest. It is a really important topic and we need to get it right as a team and that is why we need a bit of time to work out as a team going forward.
“It has sparked conversation off within the team. I am a senior player and I take a lot of responsibility on things like this so I’ll do my best to speak to as many lads as I can along with other senior members of the squad and we’ll come up with something that we feel is the best way to go forward.
“I don’t think we’ll please everyone with what we do but as long as we stick together in terms of what we believe in and what we think is right that is the most important thing.”