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Qatar 2022 World Cup: England Captain determined to highlight human rights abuses in host country

England captain Harry Kane says it is important for footballers to help shine a light on human rights issues in Qatar when the World Cup takes place there later this year.

Harry Kane (Photo: EuroSport.com)

Harry Kane wants to drive lasting social change in Qatar through the support of his teammates and captains from other national football teams.

Qatar will be hosting this year’s World Cup of which 17 teams, inclusive of England, have already qualified.


Kane said: "There’s a couple of other national captains at Tottenham or maybe it’s talking to other national team captains to see if we can be unified, what we try and do. We haven’t spoken about it yet but, over the next weeks and months, it’s definitely a conversation we should have because when you are together as nations and you have that unity in terms of captains, you can send a message."


"It is something I will try to do. I think that will send out a bigger and more powerful message. It is part of the responsibility of a captain. It is important to talk about these things and not just hide away from them. And I know for sure the other lads will be happy to be talking about it, too. Hopefully, we can make a real impact."


The England captain was at the time speaking in an interview with BBC sports editor Dan Roan.

Kane and his England teammates were briefed at St George’s Park on Tuesday about the issues surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the finals tournament – chiefly the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community and migrant workers.


The football captain also expressed conflicting emotions about the decision to host the World Cup final in Qatar.


"It wasn’t our decision, it was the decision of FIFA; the World Cup is one of the greatest tournaments I have ever played in. There is definitely that excitement of being there and experiencing that again – 2018 was incredible for me and the other players involved. But there are some issues that you can’t hide away from. There are, of course, some conflicting emotions around it."


"For me and our team it’s about controlling what we can control and that’s to make sure we do what we can and use our platforms to help in any way we can. But also still be excited about a major tournament. We will have to learn to cope with it and balance the two."


Kane is advocating for actions or gestures to show alliance with persons in Qatar affected by the human rights abuses in the country.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and there are strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws in a country whose human rights record is also under scrutiny - as is the number of deaths of migrant workers in constructing the World Cup stadiums.


While he says the team has not formally discussed this as yet, Kane is hoping for something that will draw attention to the issues and last longer than the four weeks of the tournament.


"It is similar to taking the knee [in the fight against racism]. It is not just something we did for a small amount of time. By carrying on, we keep showing our support and that has been really important. I think the same thing will happen in Qatar and, after the tournament, it will be important to keep talking about the issues and make sure anything we do help or improve is for the rest of time, not just a few months." (BBC Sport)


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