Gareth Southgate has suggested England will snub FIFA's plea to 'focus on football' in Qatar

‘I will choose if I speak or not and I am sure the players will as well’: Defiant Gareth Southgate insists England will discuss Qatar’s human rights and homosexuality controversies if asked during the World Cup – despite FIFA’s plea to ‘focus on football’

Gareth Southgate has told FIFA that England will not comply with their attempted gagging order when the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in nine days.

Last week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura sent a letter to the 32 participating nations asking them to talk only about football when the tournament starts. 

The build up to Qatar has been overshadowed by the coverage of human rights controversies associated with the host nation. Homosexuality is banned in Qatar while thousands of migrant workers are alleged to have died while building the infrastructure for the tournament under severe working conditions.

Gareth Southgate has suggested England will snub FIFA's plea to 'focus on football' in Qatar

Gareth Southgate has suggested England will snub FIFA’s plea to ‘focus on football’ in Qatar

FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently asked competing nations to ignore discussions concerning human-rights issues ahead of the tournament in the Middle Eastern country

FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently asked competing nations to ignore discussions concerning human-rights issues ahead of the tournament in the Middle Eastern country

Qatar's human rights record and treatment of migrant workers has come under fierce scrutiny

Qatar’s human rights record and treatment of migrant workers has come under fierce scrutiny

‘Frankly, I will choose if I speak or not and I am sure the players will as well,’ said England manager Southgate. ‘I don’t think we are going to be swayed by that communication.

‘That said, we have to be focused on the football. We have to get the team right. But we will speak when asked. We will answer questions and rightly so.

‘I am also conscious of how much we can affect and I think we have made the requests the FA have been asked to make by the human rights organisations. We have pushed that.

‘I am not sure there is a lot more I can say on those topics that is new. But we are in a position where we do have some influence.’

Southgate’s players will decide next week whether they take the knee in Qatar. ‘That will be a discussion with the players when we get into the camp,’ he said. 

‘I have always supported what they want to do. I have a view but I don’t want to influence them because it’s important they have a say in that.’

England captain Harry Kane is one of 10 captains from European nations who will wear 'One Love' armbands to promote diversity and inclusion at the World Cup this year

England captain Harry Kane is one of 10 captains from European nations who will wear ‘One Love’ armbands to promote diversity and inclusion at the World Cup this year

And Southgate says England are 'highly unlikely' to steer clear of ethical discussions in Qatar

And Southgate says England are ‘highly unlikely’ to steer clear of ethical discussions in Qatar

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