Most people in the UK say footballers should stay out of politics ahead of the World Cup.
The upcoming competition in Qatar is controversial for the reasons outlined in this article. The Gulf nation has been criticised for its record on human rights, same-sex relationships and treatment of migrant workers.
There have been a number of calls for players to show either support for those groups or opposition to the tournament in Qatar. However, a survey by polling company Savanta ComRes has shown that 51 per cent of the public in the UK say footballers should stay out of political issues. Of the respondents, 36 per cent said they should use their platform.
Why the World Cup 2022 in Qatar is controversial
And 54 per cent said countries should not focus on any political issues at the tournament, compared to 30 per cent who said they should.
These results came despite 66 per cent of respondents saying Qatar were not suitable hosts for the World Cup.
FIFA, the organisers of the World Cup, wrote to all 32 World Cup nations in recent weeks, requesting that they focus on football at the tournament. And France captain Hugo Lloris suggested he agreed — adding: “There’s too much pressure on players. We are the bottom of the chain.”
Lloris will be one of nine captains of European nations to wear the OneLove armband at the tournament. The armband, which features a multicoloured pattern, will be used to demonstrate against discrimination.
Most of those who responded to Savanta ComRes’s survey — 56 per cent — said they supported the England and Wales captains wearing the armband in Qatar, while 42 per cent believe it is enough of a protest.
Further protests did garner support. Protests against Iran’s clerical establishment have been taking place over the last two months following the death of a woman in custody for allegedly breaking strict hijab rules.
Iran’s players have also shown their support for those protesting.
And 41 per cent of those responding to the survey said they thought England and Wales should show solidarity with Iranian protests ahead of their games against the nation.
Those surveyed clearly felt as though there would be issues around the tournament too. Of the 3,789 UK adults interviewed by Savanta ComRes, 53 per cent thought that LGBTQ+ fans would not be welcomed in Qatar.
The Athletic conducted a further survey of its readers ahead of the World Cup — the results will be published on the website and app tomorrow.
The 2022 World Cup is happening in Qatar and there is nothing you can do about it
(Photo: Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)