Gareth Southgate has questioned what boycotting the World Cup would achieve, amid the controversies surround Qatar’s hosting of the finals this winter.
The prospect of a potential boycott of the tournament for England has been discussed in recent months given the concerns over the tournament, whilst Harry Kane this week called on national team captains to shine a light on human rights abuses in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.
Southgate’s squad were were briefed at St George’s Park this week on the issues surrounding the Gulf State’s hosting of the 2022 tournament, in particular the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community and migrant workers.
Southgate was again asked whether the Three Lions could consider making a statement by withdrawing from the World Cup, but raised doubts over that route and insisted England are in a ‘complicated’ situation.
“I don’t really know what that achieves. Of course it would be a big story but the tournament would go ahead,” he told a pre-match press conference ahead of England’s friendly with Switzerland.
“I think as soon as we have entered the tournament, that is the point you decide. We’ve known for years [where it was going to be]. Is the stance against Qatar as a country or the specific issue. If it is Qatar as a country, then we are intertwined with other issues like we have seen with Russia with all sorts of investment in our country.
“Are we all going to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s as a protest against Qatar, we are in such a complex world with deals as we have seen in Saudi Arabia recently. One the one hand people are talking about the investment in Newcastle on the other we are going asking them to reduce oil prices so we can get out petrol cheaper.
“I think we are all observing and thinking this is really difficult. This is complicated. I know the issues themselves aren’t but the repercussions and diplomatic relations are extremely complicated.”
Jordan Henderson also addressed the media on the issue and said the England players are currently assessing their options to shine a light on the issues, but are keen not to ‘rush into anything’.
“We’ve been briefed this week on the issues over there which is really important. For us as a team we are digesting that and coming up with ideas that we’d like to go moving forward. It is an opportunity to shine a light on the issues. We are speaking as a team but we don’t want to rush into anything.”