Green Party leader Natalie Bennett calls for England to boycott 2022 Qatar World Cup

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The leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett, has said she thinks England should boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, based on the country’s record on gay rights issues.

Qatar – a country notorious for its anti-gay laws – was last year cleared to host the 2022 World Cup by football’s governing body.

An ethics committee investigation by FIFA into the bidding process effectively confirmed Qatar and Russia as 2022 and 2018 hosts respectively, stating any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”.

Qatar faced a number of corruption claims surrounding its bid, but the Gulf state is now in the clear.

Speaking in an interview with GT (Gay Times) magazine, Natalie Bennett was asked whether the England squad should travel to Qatar for the competition.

She said: “Personally no, that’s my personal opinion. I think there are so many issues around Qatar – gay rights issues, workers’ rights issues.”

Ms Bennett went further to say that the “cultural problem” faced by gay people in sports should be tackled, given that many athletes who do come out as gay only feel comfortable to do so after they retire.

Out gay former Leeds Utd footballer Robbie Rogers in January spoke out about upcoming World Cups in Qatar and Russia, saying it is “insane” that they are being held there, given their poor records on LGBT rights.

LGBT rights groups in 2010 said they were “deeply concerned” by FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

FIFA in 2013 announced its intention to put pressure on Qatar to relax its anti-gay legislation ahead of hosting the 2022 event.

The head of the women’s England football team Casey Stoney said she would not attend Qatar because gay people are not welcome there.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, seen by many LGBT advocates as an obstacle when it comes to challenging homophobia and transphobia in football, was forced to apologise in 2010 for saying that gay football fans should avoid having sex in Qatar – in order to get round the country’s anti-gay laws.

Dutch former MP Richard de Mos proposed in 2012 that the Dutch football team play in pink, instead of the country’s national colour, orange, in order to highlight the LGBT rights situation in Qatar.

As well as temperatures, and the country’s anti-gay laws, Qatar has also been questioned on its use of migrant workers to construct stadiums for the event.