EXCLUSIVE: The FA ask Amnesty to discuss Qatar’s human rights record with England players as Gareth Southgate’s side consider their stance on protesting against World Cup hosts
The Football Association have approached Amnesty to brief England players on Qatar’s human rights record ahead of crucial talks scheduled for March.
Sportsmail understands that England players are expected to decide early next year whether to protest against World Cup host Qatar’s dreadful human rights history during pivotal discussions at St George’s Park, with players under pressure to use their platforms to make a stand against the alleged atrocities.
During the talks, pencilled in for the first camp of 2022 in March, Gareth Southgate’s players will be briefed in detail by external speakers who will be invited to address the squad. Amnesty are in talks with the FA to be one of the organisations to send speakers.
The finer details of next year’s discussions are still to be finalised, especially given growing concerns about Covid restrictions heading into next year.
Gareth Southgate’s England squad will speak to Amnesty over their stance on Qatar
Norway staged a protest against Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers earlier this year
But there is a clear intention from the FA to address the elephant in the room so the England camp can make an informed decision on whether to make a public stand against the World Cup hosts, with video calls to be used if Covid guidelines prevent visitors from entering base camp.
Qatar has been heavily criticised for their human rights problems, particularly in relation to the treatment of staff working on building the infrastructure, such as stadia, for the World Cup.
The Muslim state’s attitudes towards the LGBT community has also been called into question, with homosexuality illegal in Qatar.
England players have been taking a knee to protest against racial discrimination since last year
England are yet to protest against Qatar and Southgate has said they will ‘educate themselves’
Southgate, speaking last month, said: ‘We will take time to educate ourselves. If we feel that there are areas that we can help, then clearly we’ve always tried to do that, and we would do that.’
The Dutch, Norwegian and German squads have all expressed their concerns ahead of the tournament and the FA are fully aware that the England team will be under pressure to take a public stand before the World Cup, which starts in November.
Similarly, seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has this week spoken out against Saudi Arabia’s human rights record ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix in the Arab nation, a development that is likely to be noted by the FA ahead of March’s talks.