England footballer Harry Kane backs LGBT+ fans ahead of Qatar World Cup

Harry Kane talks to the media

Professional footballer and England captain Harry Kane has thrown his weight behind LGBT+ fans ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The star striker joined fellow football captains and players on Tuesday (22 March) to “shine a light” on the litany of human rights issues in the Gulf nation.

“It is something I will try to do,” he said at a briefing at St George’s Park in Staffordshire, The Mirror reported. “I think that will send out a bigger and more powerful message.

“It is part of the responsibility of a team captain. It is important to talk about these things and not just hide away from them.”

In Qatar, which will host the tournament in November and December this year, homosexuality is an imprisonable offence. Qatar also runs Sharia courts, where it is technically possible that queer Muslim men could be handed a death sentence.

Moves by FIFA officials to hold the World Cup in Qatar sparked anger and concern among queer activists, players and fans since 2010. While reports into the mistreatment of migrant construction workers, where more than two million labourers work in conditioners akin to indentured servitude, fanned further outrage.

Harry Kane: ‘It is important these conversations carry on’

Many of these issues were the topic of Tuesday’s 30-minute briefing, and Kane signalled that he plans to enlist the help of teammates Hugo Lloris and Heung-Min Son, the national captains of France and South Korea respectively.

“I know for sure that the other lads will be happy to be talking about it, too,” Kane continued. “Hopefully we can make a real impact.”

Kane stressed that it wasn’t the England team’s call to hold the World Cup in Qatar, a decision that he has some misgivings about.

“It’s a hard question to answer, if I am being totally honest,” the Three Lions captain said. “It wasn’t our decision, it was the decision of FIFA.”

The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, the host venue for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha. (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

“There are some issues that you can’t hide away from. There are, of course, some conflicting emotions around it.”

“For me and our team, it’s about controlling what we can control and that’s to make sure we do what we can and use our platforms to help in any way we can,” he added.

On whether team gestures, such as displaying banners during games to draw attention to the human rights abuses in Qatar, are impactful Kane expressed some uncertainty. What is more effective, he said, is rallying for change beyond the four weeks of the World Cup finals.

“Any issues that we are trying to resolve are trying to be resolved forever,” Kane said.

“It is not just a quick fix. The fact there is a light shining on Qatar will help the situation and help us talk about it.

“Having these conversations now is definitely useful. But it is important those conversations carry on.”