Championship side Watford have been heavily criticized for their decision to schedule against the Qatar national team this summer.
After both parties came to an agreement, Watford and Qatar will face each other when both sides stay at a training camp in Austria.
Under controversial circumstances, Qatar won the rights to stage the World Cup after winning a bid back in 2010. For the first time ever, the competition will take place at an ‘unusual’ time, scheduled to start from November 21 to December 18.
Asides from the country’s poor record on human rights, their views on homosexuality and women’s rights have come across as controversial and many have hit out against FIFA for accepting a bid from such a country. For context, Qatar have seemingly banned foreigners from ‘having sex’ during the duration of the tournament while drinking of alcohol is expected to be regulated strongly as well.
In the latest form of criticism, representatives from Watford’s LGBTQ+ supporters’ group and the women’s supporters group have both hit out at the club for their decision to arrange a friendly match with the national team of Qatar.
Qatar is well known for their non-tolerance of LGBTQ+ groups and this contrasts largely from what is common in the West, where there is more liberty and freedom of expression. A Watford fan group is not pleased about their side seemingly ‘shaking hands’ with the Middle East nation.
In a joint statement, they said: “Women of Watford (WOW) and Proud Hornets are very disappointed that Watford FC will play the Qatar national team at its training camp. We urge our team to display its support for all human rights, the LGBT+ community & women’s rights at the game and will discuss this directly with the club.”
This year’s tournament will be Qatar’s first time at a World Cup and their group contains Ecuador, the Netherlands and Senegal.
Watford, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, begin life back in the Championship with a home game against Sheffield United. The new campaign will also see another manager after Rob Edwards was snapped up from Forest Green Rovers, who he led to the League Two title last season.
Speaking about the club’s habit of sacking and replacing coaches, Edwards says he is looking forward to the challenge and that the club’s penchant for sacking managers does not faze him.
“Maybe this is wrong of me to say, I don’t know, but I feel that’s why I’m here,” he said in an interview with The Athletic.
“I think the club has seen it a different way. The club is thinking, ‘Hang on, we’ve got an opportunity here. We want to go down this route. We’ve identified Rob as a person that can help us build something’. It’s been a funny couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to working with the players and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to have an influence at this football club on the pitch, as well as off it.