2022 fifa world cup

English Club Watford Cancels Qatar Friendly After Fans Raise Concern on Human Rights

Qatar is the host nation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November

A detailed view of the corner flag prior to the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Watford and Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on March 16, 2019 in Watford, England.
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Fan groups said they persuaded English soccer club Watford on Monday to cancel a planned preseason game against Qatar over human rights issues.

The supporter groups Proud Hornets, representing LGBT fans, and Women of Watford published a joint statement expressing delight that club officials “listened to our concerns and canceled the game with Qatar.”

The World Cup host nation’s laws and society have come under increased scrutiny in the past decade. Human Rights Watch assesses “discriminatory laws against women continue” and LGBT people face discrimination in the emirate.

Watford, which was relegated from the Premier League in May, has a training camp in Austria in July and was in talks to play the warmup game. The Qatar squad has spent most of June in Spain ahead of other planned training camps in Europe.

The club did not respond to a request for comment, though British media quoted an unnamed official saying “it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play.”

Watford’s best-known fan and honorary life president, Elton John, is a long-time activist for LGBT rights.

The fan groups said: “We look forward to continue our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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