Why England players won’t take the knee against Qatar

Nov 25, 2021 by

by Brendan O’Neill, spiked:

They’re happy to bash America and Britain. But criticise an Islamic country? No way.

So, we finally have an answer to the largely rhetorical question of whether England’s oh-so-woke football players will take the knee against Qatar during the World Cup there next year. Whether these hyper-aware, rainbow laces-wearing, injustice-hating sportsmen will make some kind of physical gesture to register their concern about Qatar’s institutionalised misogyny, homophobia and mistreatment of migrant workers. The answer, in essence, is: ‘Maybe. We’re not sure. It’s complicated. And also the UK does a lot of business with Qatar, so we don’t want to piss them off too much.’ So principled!

Yes, it seems that England players who’ve spent the past 18 months kneeling down at the start of every game to ‘raise awareness’ about racism won’t do very much to raise awareness about the crushing of women’s rights, gay rights and migrants’ rights in an Islamist state where they’ll be playing football next year. At least that’s what we can fairly deduce from the tortured answer England manager Gareth Southgate gave to the question of whether players would be permitted to stage protests against Qatar’s repressive and discriminatory form of government. ‘[It’s] a very complicated situation for us’, he said. We will have to take some time to ‘educate ourselves’, he continued, cleverly deploying woke parlance to deflect attention from what seem to be staggering double standards on the part of the England team.

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