Prince William ‘entirely justified’ in turning down World Cup trip

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Prince William is “entirely justified, morally and constitutionally to speak out” on concerns about human rights abuses and LGBT freedoms in Qatar, it has been claimed, as scrunity on the country intensifies ahead of the 2022 World Cup. It was reported on Thursday night that the Prince of Wales, 40, would not travel to Qatar for the World Cup next month.

England will face Iran in the tournament on November 21.

Prince William, as president of the Football Association, would be expected by many to attend the event, as he has done for various previous sporting showdowns.

But sources close to the Prince of Wales told The Sun that the future king could not slot a trip to the Gulf state into his diary.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said the prince could not make the journey “due to the busy winter schedule”.

The World Cup being hosted in Qatar has prompted waves of controversy about the country’s human rights record, particularly the treatment of migrant workers.

Peter Tatchell, long-time human rights advocate and LGBT activist, told on Friday morning that he hoped the Prince of Wales’ non-attendance “will embolden other royals, celebrities and politicians to also stay away from the World Cup”.

Mr Tatchell, 70, said: “This is a human rights issue, not a political one, so the Prince is entirely justified, morally and constitutionally, to speak out.”

Prince William will travel across to the US in early December for the second awards ceremony of his Earthshot Prize in Boston, Massachusetts.

Should England make it through to the final, which will take place on December 18, it is also unlikely that the heir apparent would travel to Qatar, the report added.

If Gareth Southgate’s team did progress through to the final match, it is reported the prince may only attend as part of a wider government delegation.

On Thursday, Australia’s players became the first team competing in this year’s World Cup to release a statement on Qatar’s human rights record and the non-existance of LGBT rights.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and can be punishable by death.

England Captain Harry Kane will don a rainbow “OneLove” armband for the match next month, it was revealed last week, in a nod to promotion of equal rights.

Mr Tatchell claimed earlier this week he was detained and interrogated by Qatari police for staging a protest in Doha.

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He said in a video: “I was arrested and detained for 49 minutes and subjected to interrogation about where I was from, where I was going, but I have now been released.”

He said ahead of the demonstration that Doha “cannot be allowed to sportswash its reputation”, adding: “I did this protest to shine a light on Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBT+ people, women, migrant workers and liberal Qataris. I am supporting their brave battle against tyranny.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly attracted criticism earlier this week for suggesting LGBT football fans heading to Qatar to watch the World Cup should “respectful of the host nation”.

Mr Tatchell has also urged national teams to follow the example of Australia and speak out on human rights issues.

He told LBC British fans should display “a little bit of flex and compromise”, continuing in a separate interview with Sky News: “These are Muslim countries, they have very different cultural starting point for us. I think it’s important when you’re a visitor to a country that you respect the culture of your host nation.”

The foreign secretary’s comments were slammed as “shockingly tone-deaf” by Labour, and a Downing Street spokesperson quickly issued a statement speaking of LGBT football fans travelling to the emirate: “We wouldn’t expect them to compromise who they are and you’ll know the UK has very clear rules around this.

“Qatar’s policies are not those of the UK Government and not ones that we would endorse.”

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