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World Cup: CEO Nasser al Khater answers Gareth Southgate over ‘issues’ with Qatar hosting tournament

The head of the Qatar World Cup has told Gareth Southgate to “pick his words very carefully” after the England manager questioned the Gulf State’s treatment of migrant workers and said it would be a “great shame” if some fans didn’t travel to the tournament over safety concerns.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Nasser al Khater, Qatar 2022 CEO, said: “My question to the coach is, has he been to Qatar?

“Because it is kind of an issue if you’re basing your opinions, and you are very vocal about that based on things you have read.

“Somebody with a lot of influence, such as Southgate, somebody with a big audience that listens to what he says, has got to pick his words very carefully.”

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Accusations concerning the treatment of migrant workers and a poor record of human rights have plagued Qatar since it was controversially awarded the World Cup finals in 2010.

The tournament has been moved from summer to winter to cope with the extreme heat in the country.

Southgate recently said he was now “clear” on the issues of hosting the World Cup in the region, and that he plans to hold talks with his squad about these issues.

Mr al Khater urged the coach to see things for himself, adding: “He needs to come here and speak to workers and understand what workers get out of being here.”

That included, he said, putting “their children through university” and building homes, which he described as “the stories that nobody hears”.

Southgate has also voiced concern for England’s LGBTQ+ supporters, who may not travel to the Gulf State, where male homosexuality can result in a prison sentence, same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government, and women’s rights are much more restricted than in other parts of the world.

But al Khater, who claimed Qatar was the safest country in the Middle East and the second safest in the world, insisted people would feel “safe” and “comfortable” there.

“What I can say to fans is, we are a modest country, we have our culture, we have our norms, what we ask of them is to respect it,” he said. “Whether you are a gay couple, whether you are a heterosexual couple, we have the same norms, we look at it the same way.”

He offered to meet Southgate in Qatar on Friday when the draw for the World Cup group stage is being made.

“When somebody has a different opinion, you give them your side of the story,” he added. “We can agree to disagree, but that is fine.”



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