Robert Rinder says England World Cup win would be ‘middle finger’ to injustice in Qatar
Judge Robert Rinder has said he hopes England wins the World Cup as an “articulate middle finger” to Qatar in light of the host country’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, minorities and migrant workers.
Rinder’s comment follows England’s 3-0 victory against Senegal on Sunday (4 December).
The team will now progress to the quarter-finals, where they are scheduled to play France on Saturday (10 December).
Judge and TV personality Rinder said while hosting Good Morning Britain that he was uninvested in the World Cup until this point. Now, he said, he sees an opportunity for England to send a message to Qatar.
England’s win would be “an articulate middle finger … for every worker, all of those thousands who died, for every corrupt FIFA official that took a kick back, and for those minority communities, women and members of the LGBT community in that country that can’t be free,” Rinder said.
“Not only do I want them to win, I want them to go and win that final and I want them to win it for the values of Britain, of Western democracy,” he added.
Rinder’s sentiments echo activists who have been concerned about the safety and well-being of queer locals, football fans and players during the competition – but only in part.
Although some people have questioned the values of “Western democracy”, given the state of LGBTQ+ and migrant rights in the UK.
Since Qatar was announced as the World Cup host, tournament officials have come under fire for the decision to hold the games in a country where same-sex intimacy is illegal.
Qatar’s bleak human rights record for LGBTQ+ people has only been bolstered by queerphobic comments and rhetoric in anticipation of the competition.
Since the games began, several protests have taken place to counter the oppressive environment – including the foreclosed OneLove armband campaign – and the competition has proved a global stage for small acts of resistance.
It remains to be seen, however, how attention from such acts may translate to improved conditions for LGBTQ+ people in Qatar and around the world.
Qatar’s human rights abuses may be on center stage, but meanwhile, the US grapples with anti-LGBTQ+ gun violence and fears of retracted marriage equality.
In the UK, PM Rishi Sunak plans to review transgender rights in the 2010 Equality Act, vowing to put an end to “woke nonsense”.
It thus proves contentious to consider which country needs to send a message to whom – but whichever nation prevails in the World Cup, the tournament has undoubtedly spurred solidarity now archived in a long history of queer resistance.
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