World Cup 2022: England boss Gareth Southgate criticised over migrant worker claims


Gareth Southgate criticised by human rights groups after the England boss claimed migrant workers in Qatar ‘love football’ and are ‘united’ in wanting the World Cup to go ahead despite their poor treatment

  • Southgate said in an interview that migrant workers in Qatar ‘love football’ and are ‘united’ in wanting the World Cup to happen
  • Qatar has been strongly criticised for its human rights record and the treatment of workers building their stadiums and infrastructure
  • A report published last year said 6,500 workers had died on World Cup projects
  • Amnesty said workers are being denied wages and working in poor conditions
  • Human rights groups criticised Southgate’s remarks ahead of the tournament 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

England manager Gareth Southgate has come under fire from human rights groups after claiming that workers in Qatar are ‘united’ in their desire for the World Cup to go ahead.

Qatar, which will host the tournament from November 20, has been strongly criticised for its human rights record and the conditions to which thousands of migrant workers building stadiums and infrastructure have been subjected.

The Middle-Eastern country has also been criticised for its anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

In an interview with CNN, Southgate said: ‘I’ve been out to Qatar several times and I’ve met with lots of the workers out there and they are united in certainly one thing – that’s that they want the tournament to happen, and they want that because they love football.

‘They want the football to come to Qatar.’

A report published last year said 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since it was awarded the World Cup 12 years ago. The authorities in Qatar ‘categorically’ deny this.

England manager Gareth Southgate said migrant workers in Qatar are ‘united’ in wanting this month’s World Cup to go ahead

Migrant workers shelter from the sun on a World Cup construction project in Qatar - a report last year said 6,500 had died constructing the tournament infrastructure

 Migrant workers shelter from the sun on a World Cup construction project in Qatar – a report last year said 6,500 had died constructing the tournament infrastructure 

Workers put the finishing touches to a fan zone in Doha ahead of the start of the World Cup

Workers put the finishing touches to a fan zone in Doha ahead of the start of the World Cup

Qatar has been slammed for its human rights record and the conditions in which thousands of migrant workers have been subjected to as they build the tournament's infrastructure

Qatar has been slammed for its human rights record and the conditions in which thousands of migrant workers have been subjected to as they build the tournament’s infrastructure 

And a study by Amnesty International released last month – ‘Unfinished business: What Qatar must do to fulfil promises on migrant workers’ rights’ – found thousands of workers are still being denied wages or having them delayed, being denied rest days and are being exposed to unsafe working conditions.

Southgate’s comments were rebuked by Amnesty, who said employment rights are a bigger concern for these workers.

‘Many workers in Qatar will of course be football fans,’ Ella Knight of Amnesty told the Guardian.

‘But what migrant workers have really stressed to us is the need to have their rights fully protected, to be paid properly, able to change jobs freely and to enjoy safe, dignified working conditions.

Doha is preparing to welcome the world with the tournament beginning on November 20

Doha is preparing to welcome the world with the tournament beginning on November 20

Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch said: ‘There are many migrant workers who are proud of the work they have done to build the World Cup in Qatar.

‘But there are also many who have suffered preventable deaths and harms and until the deaths, loans, injuries and wage theft are compensated, it is not correct to say all migrant workers are ‘united.’

Southgate said the Football Association has engaged with human rights groups about workers’ rights in Qatar.

‘We’re trying to support those ideas with compensation for families who have lost workers and a workers’ rights centre,’ he said.

England open their World Cup against Iran on November 21 and will be hoping to progress far

England open their World Cup against Iran on November 21 and will be hoping to progress far

The Qatari Supreme Committee, which is organising the tournament, said last month: ‘The advancements in workers’ welfare is a legacy we are very proud of and are seeing in action.

‘We have always believed that the World Cup will be a catalyst to accelerate positive initiatives, leaving a legacy of meaningful and sustainable progress for the county and region.’

The World Cup kicks-off with Qatar vs Ecuador on November 20, with England opening their campaign against Iran the following day.



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