Watford cancel Qatar friendly after fans voice concerns over human rights

Watford cancel Qatar friendly after fans voice concerns over human rights

Watford have canceled a friendly match against the Qatar national team, the English club said on Monday after two supporters’ groups voiced concerns about the country’s human rights record.

The two groups — Women of Watford (WOW) and Proud Hornets — had urged the club to display its support for « all human rights, the LGBT+ community and women’s rights » at the game, but the fixture will no longer take place.

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« The game was never finalized and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised, » a club spokesperson said in a statement to British media.

Qatar’s Football Association (QFA) said it had received a number of offers from European clubs, including Watford, to play friendly matches.

« After studying the offers, we selected some friendly matches with various European teams and Watford was not among these matches that the team will play, » the QFA said in a statement.


The QFA did not mention the other European clubs involved.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state, while Human Rights Watch says Qatari laws discriminate against women and LGBT individuals.

« WOW and Proud Hornets are delighted that Watford FC has listened to our concerns and canceled the game with Qatar, » the two groups said in a joint statement on Twitter.

« We look forward to continuing our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues. »

Host nation Qatar are preparing to play in the 2022 World Cup starting in November and were drawn in Group A with Ecuador, Netherlands and Senegal.

Watford were relegated from the top-flight Premier League last season after finishing 19th in the standings.


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