GARETH SOUTHGATE has ruled out a World Cup boycott and believes it is too late to start protesting about the finals being held in Qatar.
The Gulf state has been slated over its appalling human rights record ever since being named host nation by Fifa back in 2010.
Gareth Southgate believes England should still go to Qatar as he prepares for Saturday’s friendly vs Switzerland with assistant boss Steve HollandCredit: PA
Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson take centre stage during England trainingCredit: Getty
But England boss Southgate insists his team will go to Qatar in November, saying: “I don’t know what a boycott would achieve.
It would be a big story but the tournament would still go ahead and the fact is that the biggest issues that are non-religious and non-cultural concern what happened with the building of the stadiums.
“And sadly there is nothing we can do about that now.
“As soon as we entered this tournament we should have decided what stance we would take against Qatar.
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“Should we protest against them as a country or on a specific issue? Because if it’s as a country, we are intertwined, as we have seen with Russia.
“We have all sorts of investments with Qatar in this country. Are we all going to stop shopping at Sainsburys or protest against the Shard?
“We are in such a complex world as we have seen with people criticising the Saudi investment in Newcastle and then we go to them asking to reduce the oil prices so we can get our petrol cheaper.
“All these discussions concerning diplomatic relations and dealing with other countries are extremely complicated and I don’t think it’s a decision the players or myself can make.”
FA chiefs gave the entire England squad a thorough briefing on the issues surrounding Qatar ahead of this afternoon’s Wembley friendly against Switzerland.
Southgate revealed: “The conversations with the players were very important. We were trying to reduce an incredible amount of information into key areas and that has provoked a lot of discussions between them.
“They are thinking through how best they can respond to try to affect things.
“Some of the religious and cultural aspects are going to be very difficult to change but there is an opportunity to use our voices in a positive way.”
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson admits he was left shaken by the situation in Doha when the details were laid out to the players by the FA this week.
He said: “I’d heard a lot of stuff about Qatar but it was hard to know what was going on, what was true and what wasn’t.
“I played there in the Club World Cup with Liverpool three years ago and as far as I was concerned there were no issues.
Conor Gallagher faces up to fellow England midfielder Jordan HendersonCredit: Getty
Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse, Tyrone Mings, Jude Bellingham and Ben White of England go through a handy routineCredit: Rex
Raheem Sterling is the man in the middle at St George’s Park, Burton Upon TrentCredit: Rex
Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell adjusts to England training after his call-upCredit: Rex
“We were only there for a week and everything was fine with the accommodation and the stadium and there were no issues with the supporters so everything seemed OK.
“But when we were given a proper briefing by the FA the other day, it was quite shocking and horrendous to hear some of the issues that have been happening there.
“That has taken some time for us to digest and it’s sparked off a conversation within the team because it’s a really important topic and we need to work out what we want to do going forward.
“It’s an opportunity to shine a light on the issues that are there and maybe we can use our platforms to make a change for the better.
We try to make a difference for a positive change and I think everyone knows we will always stand against discrimination.
“We have a couple of international captains at Liverpool in Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson and Harry Kane will speak to other captains across Europe before determining what we will do together.
“Whatever we decide to do as a team will be criticised and will never be enough, but that’s not why we do it.
“We try to make a difference in the world for a positive change and I think everyone knows we will always stand against discrimination.
“People questioned why we were taking the knee and at the beginning I could hear some fans who were booing us for doing it.
“But all I hear now are cheers so I feel we’ve made positive change in a very short time.
“But there’s a lot of work to be done and we will continue doing that as a team and as individuals.”