Soccer-Qatar World Cup CEO wants to meet Southgate to discuss concerns

International Friendly - England v Ivory Coast
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - International Friendly - England v Ivory Coast - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - March 29, 2022 England manager Gareth Southgate before the match REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

March 31, 2022

(Reuters) – Qatar World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater has called for a meeting with Gareth Southgate after the England manager said he is unhappy some fans will not feel safe travelling to the event due to concerns over human rights issues in the country.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state and there is also unease over women’s rights, while a report by Amnesty International found that thousands of migrant workers in the country were being exploited, which Qatar has denied.

Southgate said this month it was a “great shame” there were issues stopping fans going to the World Cup, highlighting the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.

“Somebody with a lot of influence, such as Southgate, somebody with a big audience that listens to what he says, ought to pick his words very carefully,” Al-Khater told Sky Sports on Wednesday.

“And I think that before making statements like that, when it comes to the workers, he needs to come here and speak to workers and understand what workers get out of being here.”

The World Cup draw is set to be held in Doha on Friday and Al-Khater said he wanted the opportunity to discuss the issues with Southgate.

“… so I look forward to welcoming him here, I look forward to meeting him at the draw and he can listen to my opinion, he does not have to believe it, but at least he needs to go that far to understand different opinions and different cultures,” he added.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)