Gareth Southgate on if England could boycott 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
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This afternoon England take on Switzerland in a friendly at 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports. The fixture could see international debuts for Crystal Palace defensive pair Tyrick Mitchell and Marc Guehi and Southampton full-back Kyle Walker-Peters. Guehi, who has been under-21s captain for most of the season, was named in the original squad, while Mitchell and Walker-Peters were late call ups after the withdrawals of Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Southgate told the media: “We will have debuts this week for sure. Great moments for those players and we will always want to put them in with experienced players.
“Training has been good. The players have enjoyed being back together with their England teammates.
“It has given them a psychological refresh before they go back into another important period with their clubs and we are enjoying working with them again.”
Southgate is the most successful England manager since World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey, after taking the England team to a semi-final at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the country’s first major tournament final since 1966 in the Euros last summer.
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England’s World Cup hopes were also given a boost this week as Italy, who beat England on penalties in the European Championship final, will miss their second World Cup in a row after suffering a 1-0 defeat to North Macedonia on Thursday.
Despite Southgate’s success in recent years, the Duke of Cambridge joked in July 2020 that he would sack the England manager if he got “bored”.
William, who is President of the FA, was asked on the Peter Crouch Podcast: “Gareth Southgate is a very nice man and has been very successful as England manager, but if England had a disastrous run of form, could you sack him?”
The royal replied: “Gareth would go yeah.”
Tom Fordyce, who is co-host of the show, then said: “How many games in a row do England need to lose before you press the button?”
William joked: “Depends when I get bored”.
In reality however, the Duke of Cambridge appears to have a good relationship with Southgate.
In a video released by the Heads Up campaign in 2020, the England manager spoke candidly with William about his mental health.
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Southgate described the mental toll of missing the decisive penalty as a player in the semi-final of Euro 1996 against Germany.
He told William: “I had quite a high profile situation in missing a penalty with England. Without doubt, when I look back, that was professionally the most challenging situation I’ve been in.
“You’re in a position where this is in the biggest game they’ve had for 50 years ‒ I forget how many years of hurt we’ve had.
“The country was on a tidal wave of good emotion and feeling and you walk away from the stadium feeling you’re the person that’s responsible for [ending] that feeling.”
Southgate added: “I don’t feel anger, just regret, remorse and responsibility, and to a small degree that still lives with me.
“To have failed under pressure under that huge spotlight is hard professionally to take.”
As the World Cup in Qatar approaches the host nation’s human rights record has been called into question by a number of football’s most influential figures, including England skipper Harry Kane.
Kane said he wanted to “shine a light” on the issue, and proposed discussing the matter with Tottenham colleagues Son Heung-Min and Hugo Lloris, who are captains of South Korea and France respectively.
However, on Friday Southgate said that withdrawing from the tournament would not help matters.
The England manager said: “I don’t know what that achieves ‒ it would be a big story but the tournament would go ahead.
“It’s possible, but it’s not a decision that the players or myself would make.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, while women’s rights are also the subject of ongoing debate in the country.
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