Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser Al Khater has urged England boss Gareth Southgate to “pick his words carefully” after voicing concerns over the country’s suitability as World Cup hosts.
Accusations concerning the treatment of migrant workers and a poor record of human rights have plagued the Gulf state since it was controversially awarded the finals in 2010.
Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence, same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government and women’s rights are much tighter than in some other parts of the world.
Southgate previously said it is a “great shame” that sections of England supporters will not travel to Qatar for the World Cup this winter and stressed that no one is “complacent” about the issues involved.
Ahead of their friendlies over the international break, Southgate hosted a meeting with the current England squad, discussing the ongoing challenges in Qatar and opening a dialogue on how England could show their opposition.
He questioned what an England boycott of the World Cup, which kicks off in November, would achieve and admitted whatever action might be taken by his team will be met with criticism from some quarters.
Following England’s win over Ivory Coast at Wembley on Tuesday evening, Southgate has travelled out to Qatar as part of the Football Association’s delegation at the World Cup draw on Friday.
Al Khater was questioned on the opinions of the England boss and hopes to get the opportunity to talk things through face to face during the FIFA congress in Doha.
“My question would be who from the England squad has been to Qatar? My question to the coach is has he been to Qatar?” he said in an interview with Sky Sports News.
England manager Gareth Southgate during a training session at St George's Park, Burton upon Trent. Picture date: Wednesday September 1, 2021. Mike Egerton
“Is he basing his opinions and his public statements on what he has read? Because it is kind of an issue when you just base an opinion on which you are very vocal about on things which you have read.
“Somebody with a lot of influence such as Southgate, somebody with a big audience that listens to what he has said has got to pick his words carefully.
“I think before making statements like that when it comes to the workers, he needs to come here, speak to workers, understand what workers get out of being here.
“There are isolated cases, these are the cases which make it to the media. However, I can assure him that if he comes here, speaks to the majority of workers, they will tell you how they have put their children through University, they will tell you how they built their houses for them and their families. These are the stories that nobody hears.
“So I look forward to welcoming him here, I look forward to meeting him at the draw. He can listen to my opinion. He doesn’t have to believe it, but at least he needs to go that far to understand different opinions, to understand different cultures.
“I am extending him my deepest respect. I respect him as a coach, as a human being. I don’t have any issues with people’s opinions. Obviously when someone has a different opinion, you will give them your side of the story. We can agree to disagree, but that’s fine.”
Meanwhile, FIFA has announced its new rules concerning the loaning of players will be implemented from July.
From July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, a club may have a maximum of eight professionals, aged 22 and over, loaned out and eight loaned in.
That figure will drop to six players loaned in or out from July 1, 2024.