I won’t back, promote Qatar World Cup
England and Arsenal star Beth Mead has said she is disappointed that the men’s World Cup will be held in Qatar and refuses to back or promote the tournament.
Qatar was a hugely controversial choice for the finals when it was awarded the 2022 tournament 12 years ago, not least because same-sex activity is a criminal offence there with the possibility of a prison sentence of one to three years for adults convicted of consensual gay or lesbian sex.
There is no recognition of civil partnerships in the Gulf state, which does not allow people to campaign for LGBTQI+ rights.
When asked about the tournament which starts on Nov. 20, Mead told the BBC: “For me, from the minute it was announced I thought: ‘I mean, it’s not the best idea.’
“The way they think and how they go is the complete opposite to what I believe and respect, and although I’m cheering for the boys who are going to play football there, I still don’t believe it’s the right place.
“But unfortunately money talks and the situation even of the stadiums being built and the amount of people who have passed because of that, it’s not an ideal situation, and it’s not something I will be backing or promoting at all, but unfortunately it is going ahead.
“Just disappointing, I guess, in that sense of there’s no respect on a lot of levels, even though it’s a game of football.”
Australia are the only nation participating at the World Cup to collectively protest for specific changes from the Qatar government in relation to the treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQI+ community.
England players have made clear their support for LGBTQI+ campaigners in Qatar by confirming captain Harry Kane will wear a rainbow-flag armband during the tournament.
Mead is in a relationship with Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema and said the pair never wanted to make a public statement because it is just “normal life.”
“We’ve made it the norm from day one,” Mead added. “We haven’t felt the need to come out and give a statement of who we’re with and what we’re doing, we’ve just classed it as normal life.
“If I want to put a picture of me and Viv on my Instagram, I do but I don’t caption it: ‘This is my girlfriend, this is what we’re doing.’
“In the men’s game they feel they have to make a statement of the situation. It’s been a culture, and that culture needs to shift.”