Gareth Southgate slammed for claiming Qatar workers "united" in wanting World Cup

3 November 2022, 08:57

Gareth Southgate slammed for controversial comments about migrant workers in Qatar
Gareth Southgate slammed for controversial comments about migrant workers in Qatar. Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

England manager Gareth Southgate has been attacked for claiming that workers in Qatar are "united" in their desire for the World Cup to go ahead.

Qatar, which will host the tournament from November 20, has been slammed for its human rights record, its anti-LGBTQ+ laws and the conditions that the thousands of migrant workers faced building the stadiums.

In an interview with CNN, Southgate said: "I've been out to Qatar several times and I've met with lots of the workers out there and they are united in certainly one thing - that's that they want the tournament to happen, and they want that because they love football.

"They want the football to come to Qatar."

World Cup will start in Qatar later this month
World Cup will start in Qatar later this month. Picture: Alamy

Read More: 'Don't compromise on your identity', minister tells gay football fans heading to the World Cup amid 'respect' Qatar row

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A report published last year said 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since it was awarded the World Cup 12 years ago. The authorities in Qatar 'categorically' deny this.

Last month a study Amnesty International claimed thousands of workers are still being denied wages or having them delayed, being denied rest days and are being exposed to unsafe working conditions.

Ella Knight of Amnesty told the Guardian: "Many workers in Qatar will of course be football fans

"But what migrant workers have really stressed to us is the need to have their rights fully protected, to be paid properly, able to change jobs freely and to enjoy safe, dignified working conditions."

Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch said: "There are many migrant workers who are proud of the work they have done to build the World Cup in Qatar.

"But there are also many who have suffered preventable deaths and harms and until the deaths, loans, injuries and wage theft are compensated, it is not correct to say all migrant workers are 'united'."

The Qatari Supreme Committee, which is organising the tournament, said last month: "The advancements in workers' welfare is a legacy we are very proud of and are seeing in action.

"We have always believed that the World Cup will be a catalyst to accelerate positive initiatives, leaving a legacy of meaningful and sustainable progress for the county and region.

"The World Cup kicks-off with Qatar vs Ecuador on November 20, with England opening their campaign against Iran the following day."

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