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Harry Kane reveals discussions on taking collective stand on human rights in Qatar

<i>Eddie Keogh/The FA/Getty Images</i><br/>England captain Harry Kane
The FA via Getty Images
Eddie Keogh/The FA/Getty Images
England captain Harry Kane

By Sana Noor Haq, CNN

England captain Harry Kane has said he has discussed taking a unified stance on the human rights issues surrounding this year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar with Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and France captain Hugo Lloris.

“Christian Eriksen got in touch with me a couple of weeks ago now,” the 28-year-old told reporters during a press conference on Monday, Reuters reported.

Kane, who is teammates with Lloris at Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, said: “Obviously, there is Hugo Lloris, who I am in touch with a lot anyway. So the discussion was there to maybe do something as a collective.

“When we come to a decision of something we want to do, for sure, we will share it,” he added, speaking ahead of his side’s UEFA Nations League match against Hungary on Tuesday. “I think it will be important to do it collectively. I feel like it will be a bit more of a stance, a bit more power.”

CNN has contacted Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which is in charge of coordinating the tournament, for a response.

Human rights issues

Much of the buildup to this year’s tournament has focused on Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the country’s anti-homosexuality laws.

In May, Norway’s FA President Lise Klaveness gave a stinging speech where she said the decision to give World Cup hosting rights to Qatar was “unacceptable,” insisting that FIFA should do more to uphold its principles of human rights.

A month later, Amnesty International sent an open letter co-signed by other human rights organizations to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, asking football’s international governing body to designate at least $440 million to reimburse migrant workers.

The letter followed a report published by Amnesty in April that said security guards who are migrant workers in Qatar — including some with jobs on projects linked to the World Cup — are being put through working conditions “which amount to forced labor.”

In a statement, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it has been “committed to protecting the health, safety and security of any worker engaged on official FIFA World Cup projects.”

However, the Amnesty report claimed the SC and FIFA fell short of conducting “adequate due diligence” before contracting private companies for the World Cup.

Australian footballer Josh Cavallo has also spoken out ahead of this year’s World Cup.

Until Blackpool FC’s Jake Daniels came out as gay in May, Cavallo was the only current, openly gay player in men’s top flight football. He told English newspaper the Guardian last year that he would be “scared” to play at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.

Responding to Cavallo’s fears, Nasser Al Khater, the chief executive of the tournament’s organizing committee, told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies: “On the contrary, we welcome him here in the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see even prior to the World Cup … Nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe.”

‘They’re making a stand’

The current roster of footballers in England’s men’s national team have historically taken a stance on social issues.

Before and during the Euro 2020 tournament last summer, England’s players took the knee ahead of each game — an act manager Gareth Southgate said showed their support of anti-racism — even though the gesture continued to divide fans.

In 2020, England forward Marcus Rashford steered a campaign to end child food poverty and successfully persuaded the UK government to reverse its decision to not extend free school meal vouchers for disadvantaged children during the summer holidays.

“They’re making a stand every time they speak,” Southgate said during the press conference on Monday.

Southgate said he had met with some of the workers in Qatar and “had a long discussion” with them, adding, “I’m back out there in a few weeks.”

“The FA are doing things. I know Harry has had conversations with some of the other captains as well, because we think some collective standpoints would be important,” Southgate added.

“I think to have that consistency, I don’t think countries are wanting to outdo each other or pick each other off. I think they’re trying to do something that would try to make a difference if possible. So, you know, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”

The World Cup is set to take place from November 21 to December 18 later this year.

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CNN’s Jack Bantock, Ben Church, George Ramsay and Matias Grez contributed to this report.

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