Gareth Southgate addresses Newcastle United 'investment' amid calls for World Cup boycott

Gareth Southgate brought up Newcastle United’s takeover when asked about a boycott of the World Cup in Qatar.

There have been calls for a boycott of the 2022 tournament, set to be staged late this year, due to the country’s human rights record and treatment of migrant workers.

And Southgate – who hosted a meeting with his squad this week to discuss the issues involved – brought up last year’s takeover of Newcastle by Saudi Arabai’s Public Investment Fund when asked about a boycott.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the supply of oil from the country amid an energy crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

England manager Gareth Southgate.England manager Gareth Southgate.
England manager Gareth Southgate.

Asked if a boycott of the Qatar World Cup had been discussed, Southgate said: “I don’t really know what that achieves.

“It would of course be a big story, but this tournament would go ahead.

"The fact is, unfortunately, the biggest issue that is probably non-religious or non-cultural is what happened with the building of the stadiums. There’s nothing we can do about that either, sadly.

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“I think as soon as we’ve entered the tournament, that’s the point we decide. We’ve known for four years or eight years that this is going to be in Qatar. Is the stance against Qatar as a country? If that’s the case your question is we’re protesting against Qatar as a country?

“We’re intertwined, as we’ve seen with Russia, with all sorts of investment in our country. Are we all going to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s as a protest against Qatar? The Shard. There’s all sorts of property investment.

“We’re in such a complex world of deals. As we’ve seen with Saudi Arabia recently.

"On the one hand, people are saying about the investment in Newcastle. On the other we are going to ask them to reduce the oil prices so we can get our petrol cheaper.”

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Pressed on a boycott, Southgate said: “My understanding is the discussions the FA has had with organisations like Amnesty International is that they feel there would be more change if we go and these things are highlighted.

"That’s also guiding some of the thinking on that.”

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