Patrick Christys: You either take the knee, promote gay rights and boycott Qatar’s World Cup... or shut up and play football

But we can’t pick and choose about what morals we have. You either take the knee, promote gay rights and social justice and then boycott Qatar’s World Cup. Or we just shut up, stop all of those things and play football

Published Last updated

There’s a lot of virtue signalling in football isn’t there. The unrelenting taking of the knee before a game being the most obvious example. There’s the rainbow laces campaign to combat homophobia. Marcus Rashford’s hungry children.

Presumably then, whilst it was nice that England sealed qualification for the Qatar World Cup last night by thumping a team of post-office workers from San Marino 10-0 in what was essentially 90mins of legalised bullying, it was nothing more than a performance. Because we’ll be boycotting the World Cup won’t we? We won’t be going.

How can we possibly claim to care about racism, gay rights and social justice while simultaneously attending an epic sports-washing event with games of football played in stadiums built by slaves, where gay people are executed and women are treated like property?

We think we’ve got a problem with racism in this country? That looks like a children’s tea party compared to what’s going on in Qatar, where black people are literally treated like third class citizens and migrant workers from other countries are, well, enslaved.

A recent report by Amnesty International has highlighted this exact issue – there are 1.7m migrant workers in Qatar, they make up 90% of that country’s workforce, they live in purpose built slums and they’re often simply not paid – and when they are paid, many of them were only expecting to get $300-a-month, but instead some get just $190. At least 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded. They are regularly beaten.

Qatar has absolutely no footballing history or pedigree whatsoever. They do, however, have a very long history and pedigree when it comes to being a complete and utter cesspit of human rights violations. They have anti-sodomy laws which are punishable by death. So my mate and his boyfriend, who are going to the World Cup, will just have to stop being gay when they get off the plane. So-called ‘biased’ news reporting can be punishable by five years in prison, so I better not go to Qatar any time soon. Women need a male guardian, they have no rights to employment, they’ll be left destitute after divorce. The Qatari authorities took a number of women off planes when they were travelling out of Doha’s airport in the capital and subjected them to forced, private medical examinations to determine if they had given birth; a baby girl had been found abandoned in a bin at the airport. If you commit blasphemy, can you guess what happens? Yep, death again.

And it’s going backwards, not forwards as a nation. They reinstated the death penalty relatively recently after a bit of a break from all the slaughter. We’ve got huge corporations officially sponsoring this World Cup. McDonalds, Budweiser, which is ironic because drinking in public is banned.

Look, I want us to win the world cup, and love my football, and I love Gareth Southgate and his magic waistcoat, I think this is the best England team I’ve seen in my lifetime.

But we can’t pick and choose about what morals we have. You either take the knee, promote gay rights and social justice and then boycott Qatar’s World Cup. Or we just shut up, stop all of those things and play football. We can’t have it both ways.