England manager Gareth Southgate during training at St. George’s Park, Burton upon Trent September 22, 2022. — Reuters pic
Friday, 23 Sep 2022 5:03 AM MYT
MILAN, Sept 23 — England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane believe there is a limit to how much players can protest human rights issues at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Kane will join forces with the skippers of seven other European nations in wearing a “one love” armband featuring a multi-coloured heart.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and organisers have sought to reassure rights groups that same-sex couples will not face action at the tournament, which starts on November 20.
The English Football Association also announced on Wednesday that Southgate’s players will meet with migrant workers after their arrival in the Gulf state.
Human rights groups this week urged more sponsors of the World Cup to support calls for compensation for workers and their families over alleged abuses during construction projects for the tournament.
“There is not a lot more the players in particular can do other than talk about those issues and put them on the table,” said Southgate at his pre-match press conference ahead of Friday’s Nations League game against Italy.
“In the end, we are asking for change in a country we are respectful of, has made progress, but don’t have any control over.”
Kane said he had spoken to Tottenham teammate and France captain Hugo Lloris and Denmark’s Christian Eriksen about making a collective statement on the world stage.
“I had a discussion with Christian and Hugo at Spurs, it was about coming together,” said the Spurs striker.
“There is only so much the players can actually do and wearing the armband on the biggest stage in the world will have an impact.
“But we can only do what we can, we have definitely taken a step forward to help some of the issues in Qatar.”
England open their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21 before facing the United States and Wales in Group B.
The Three Lions are among the favourites to win the tournament after reaching the final of Euro 2020, but have work to do over the next four days to avoid relegation from the top tier of the Nations League.
England have taken just two points from their opening four games in a group containing Italy, Germany and Hungary.
Defeat at the San Siro would see Southgate’s men finish bottom of the section and raise doubts over their credentials as World Cup contenders. — AFP