England are preparing for friendlies with Switzerland and Ivory Coast, and captain Harry Kane spoke to the media on Wednesday. The Tottenham star was asked for his views on Qatar’s record on human rights and said the players and staff have been discussing the situation and will not shy away from raising awareness.
Harry Kane has said he is conflicted about playing at the World Cup due to Qatar’s record on human rights, but says the players will use their platforms to raise awareness.
Qatar was controversially handed the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, and it has put the country’s record on human rights in the spotlight – while it’s use of migrant workers has also come in for criticism.
Male homosexuality can result in a prison sentence, while same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government.
Kane confirmed manager Gareth Southgate led a team meeting on Tuesday where human rights were discussed, and Kane said it is an issue the players will not shy away from.
“We had that meeting last night and I think it was important to talk with the manager and the staff and the players,” Kane said at a press conference on Wednesday in the lead up to of England’s friendlies with Switzerland and Ivory Coast.
“Obviously we wanted to qualify for the World Cup before doing that and we’ve done that. So it was our first chance to have that chat. Gareth led that meeting and we spoke about what to expect and some of the important issues which are surrounding the World Cup.
“For us now as players it’s important to talk among ourselves – not just this camp but the camps going forward as well in June.
“I feel as a group we’ve never shied away from important issues, and we’ve always had our opinions and tried to show unity in anything we’ve done. That’s what will happen now over this camp and the next camp to try to help in any way we can to support those issues.”
Asked about his feelings on playing in Qatar, Kane said: “A World Cup is professionally one of the greatest tournaments I will play in, so there is the excitement of being there. But there are some issues you can’t hide away from so I have conflicting emotions around it.”
Kane is hopeful that the World Cup being in Qatar will shine a light on the issues and bring about change.
“As players we didn’t choose where this World Cup was going to be,” Kane said. “But what it has done is it has shone a light on important issues which might not have come to light if the World Cup wasn’t there.
“We have to try to help as much as possible to understand the issues and the situations. We’re no experts in that field at the moment in terms of what we know but as always we try to help in any way we can, we try to use our platform to help in any way we can.
“I understand there has been some progress on certain issues in the country so far. What my hope is that having the World Cup there and having this light on the country will help try and progress some of the issues which have been going on for a long time.
“There’s a couple of other national team captains in my team at Tottenham, maybe [I will be] talking to other national team captains to see whether we can be unified in what we try and do and approach it. That’s something myself and some of the senior players in the team will look to try to achieve over the coming months.
“There’s still a lot of progress to be made. But hopefully all of us, like we have done in the past, can try to make change with the platforms that we have.”