England manager Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate says England will “educate themselves” before deciding whether to protest Qatar’s human rights record after sealing their place at the World Cup.
Southgate’s side qualified for next year’s tournament with a 10-0 demolition of San Marino in their last Group I match on Monday.
Qatar’s human rights record has been criticised by Amnesty International in relation to the World Cup and the treatment of migrant workers building infrastructure including stadiums for the tournament.
The Netherlands, Norway and Germany national teams have made protests ahead of the tournament and Southgate’s team are mulling whether to follow suit.
England defender Conor Coady said this week that Southgate’s squad would discuss how to express their concerns about human rights in Qatar once they have qualified.
Speaking at a press conference after the San Marino game, Southgate said he and his squad would investigate the “complex” issues surrounding Qatar.
“We have to go and work with people and represent the country in a foreign land and when you are doing that you have got to be 100 per cent sure of your facts,” he said.
“That’s not easy because it’s hard to work through what is current and what is historic. We have a responsibility to represent our country in the right way.
“There are clear cultural differences between the two nations. It is hugely complex but we will take the time to educate ourselves and if we feel there are areas we can highlight and help, we have always tried to do that and we will do that.”
England finished their qualifying campaign with an unbeaten record and they will arrive at the World Cup in November 2022 as one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
Without major silverware since the 1966 World Cup, England have trended upwards in the Southgate era, reaching the Euro 2020 final earlier this year and the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.
Thrashing San Marino, FIFA’s lowest ranked team, won’t count for much in Qatar, but it was a stylish way to finish off a memorable year for England.
England won more games (15), scored more goals (52) and kept more clean sheets (14) in 2021 than in any calendar year in their history.
“We gave a performance that was enjoyable for the supporters that travelled, was clinical in the way we went about it, and then showed some exciting young players coming through,” Southgate said.
“Of course we will have much tougher tests but I’ve been involved in nights like this with England that have been horrible, where the crowd were on our backs, where the whole environment was very different.
“I just like the fact we have got a mentality where we don’t take our foot off the gas and whatever the challenge I have set the players they have responded to it.”
Harry Kane scored four times to move alongside Gary Lineker in third place in England’s all-time scoring charts with 48 goals, with only Bobby Charlton (49) and Wayne Rooney (53) ahead of the Tottenham striker.
Southgate believes the 28-year-old England captain could go on to set a new benchmark that could last for many years.
“I think that would definitely be one of his goals. The remarkable thing is we haven’t given him the opportunities with nights like this too often,” he said.
“It’s not ‘Is he going to break the record?’, it is when, and what might he do once he is beyond that point.”
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