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When will the virtue-signalling football world speak out on Qatar?

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The football world fell silent yesterday after being challenged to take action against the persecution of gays and the mistreatment of women in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.

The inclusive face of football – and the desire of its role models to speak out – was epitomized by England captain Harry Kane who wore a rainbow bracelet and fell to the knee at Wembley during Euro 2020 in June.

But a string of influential figures who so often sought to polish their credentials by bending to their knees to fight racism or support campaigns against homophobia didn’t say a word when asked to speak out against the ruthless nation in the Middle East or boycott the tournament.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie and ITV chief Carolyn McCall, the heads of Britain’s biggest broadcasters, who have the rights to broadcast games, were also silent.

The inclusive face of football – and the desire of its role models to speak out – was epitomized by England captain Harry Kane who wore a rainbow bracelet and fell to the knee at Wembley during Euro 2020 in June

The football association said it believed that more progress would be made on human rights by working with Qatar.

Gareth Southgate, who has spoken passionately about social issues as England manager for five years, did not respond when asked if he would publicly criticize Qatar for its treatment of gays and women.

Qatar’s choice, with its miserable human rights record, to host the World Cup next year creates a principled versus profit dilemma for presenters, pundits and broadcasters.

BBC presenter Gary Lineker has a £1.9 million-a-year contract, which includes hosting matches from World Cup tournaments. He wore a rainbow ribbon in support of gay rights at the 2017 World Cup draw in Moscow and was one of the nominees for Football Ally of the Year at this year’s LGBT Awards. He declined to say whether he intended to criticize Qatar or boycott the event.

The Football Association said it believed more progress would be made on human rights by working with Qatar

The Football Association said it believed more progress would be made on human rights by working with Qatar

BBC presenter Gary Lineker has a £1.9million-a-year contract, which includes hosting games from World Cup tournaments

BBC presenter Gary Lineker has a £1.9million-a-year contract, which includes hosting games from World Cup tournaments

Gary Neville, who is expected to be asked to return as an ITV pundit, also declined to comment. The former England defender went to Qatar last year for a Sky Sports documentary about the poor living conditions of migrant workers building stadiums for the event, and observed ‘grief runs through your body’ on the screens.

Despite her public support for gay rights group Stonewall’s ‘rainbow laces’ initiative, Alex Scott – the former England women’s football star who is seen as a rising star by the BBC – did not respond when asked if she would travel to Qatar to cover the tournament if requested by the Corporation.

BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan said she had not yet been booked to work in Qatar but declined to say whether she would accept such an offer. Former Scottish international Graeme Souness, a popular ITV pundit who has spoken publicly about his support for gay footballers, has not responded to a request to say whether he would cover the event if asked.

David Beckham, who has praised Qatar’s ‘great culture’, also declined to answer questions about a £10million deal he signed this year to become the ‘face’ of the World Cup, or venture his thoughts on the treatment of gays and women in the country.

The wall of silence comes as an investigation by The Mail on Sunday today reveals how gay men in Qatar live in near-permanent fear. Speaking boldly of their ordeal, several describe how the police arrest people in the street on the mere suspicion that they are gay and shave the heads of detainees.

Gary Neville, who is expected to be asked to return as an ITV pundit, also declined to comment

Gareth Southgate, who has spoken passionately about social issues as England manager for five years, did not respond when asked if he would publicly criticize Qatar for its treatment of gays and women.

Gary Neville, who is expected to be asked to return as an ITV pundit, also declined to comment. Gareth Southgate, who has spoken passionately about social issues as England manager for five years, did not respond when asked if he would publicly criticize Qatar for its treatment of gays and women.

Women are discriminated against by a male guardianship system that forces them to seek approval to marry, study or travel.

Last night, campaign groups urged influential voices in football and broadcasting to speak out – and consider boycotting the event. LGBT+ and human rights activist Peter Tatchell said: “Football has to decide whether to go to Qatar and collude with a tyrannical, homophobic regime. The same goes for TV commentators and broadcasters. Scoring goals is nice, but not at the expense of human rights.’

Joan Smith, former Mayor of the London Violence Against Women and Girls Board, said: ‘Football has a huge ethical problem when it comes to countries that mistreat women, such as Qatar. If you go there for an event like the World Cup, you strengthen their system. If you take money from their government, you are complicit in letting them get away with treating women horribly.”

Qatar’s homophobia and sexism violates the diversity and equality policies of the BBC and ITV, but neither would condemn the state or its discriminatory laws. ITV said: ‘The 2022 World Cup is a global event, covered by the world media, including ITV.’

An FA spokesperson and chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “We are in regular dialogue with Amnesty International, FIFA, other member associations and the Foreign Office, and are working closely with everyone to ensure that if we qualify come, we approach our participation. in a socially responsible manner.

‘Change is best achieved by working together, so that we can continue to ask the right questions and at the same time realize that we have our own challenges in this country.’

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