(Reuters) – England captain Leah Williamson said on Friday that she had no interest in watching the upcoming men’s World Cup in Qatar, adding that the tournament has a huge shadow over it.
The 25-year-old Arsenal defender, who lifted the European Championship trophy earlier this year, said she wanted to use her voice to focus on the controversial issues regarding the tournament.
The country has come under intense pressure over its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws, leading many participating teams to raise concerns. Qatar has denied claims that workers were exploited.
“It’s a shame that we are heading into what should be the greatest show on earth with this huge shadow over the top of it,” Williamson told the BBC.
“I’m disappointed and I think it is a shame as growing up, watching the World Cup was one of the things that brought everybody together.”
Williamson stated she would still support her male counterparts but that she no longer feels an interest in the tournament.
“I think there are times when it will be appropriate to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and be a force for change,” Williamson said.
“I’ll support the boys but I haven’t got any interest in it as a fan really this year, which is sad.”
England defender Lotte Wubben-Moy told the Guardian earlier this month that she would not watch the tournament due to the country’s views on women, homosexuality and human rights.
Organisers of the World Cup in Qatar, which starts on Nov. 20 and is the first to be held in a Middle Eastern nation, say that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or background, is welcome, while also warning against public displays of affection.
(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Christian Radnedge)