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World Cup 2022: Leah Williamson ‘hasn’t got any interest’ in watching tournament

Leah Williamson playing for England
Leah Williamson led England to the Euro 2022 title this summer
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

England captain Leah Williamson says she “hasn’t got any interest” in watching this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

The Middle East nation was a controversial choice as host in 2010.

It has been criticised for its stance on same-sex relationships, human rights and treatment of migrant workers.

“It’s a shame that we are heading into what should be the greatest show on earth with this huge shadow over the top of it,” Williamson told the BBC.

“And I don’t know quite how we got here, if I’m honest.

“I’m disappointed and I think it is a shame as growing up, watching the World Cup was one of the things that brought everybody together.”

‘I want to use my voice’

Qatar was accused of paying Fifa officials £3m in bribes to secure their backing for their World Cup bid, but was cleared after a two-year investigation.

Fifa’s then president, Sepp Blatter, supported Qatar’s bid but has now said the decision was a mistake.

In February 2021, the Guardian said 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid.

However, the Qatar government has said the total is misleading, because not all the deaths recorded were of people working on World Cup-related projects.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch said members of Qatar’s LGBTQ+ community were detained and physically abused by the country’s security services, while a Qatar World Cup ambassador was criticised for saying homosexuality was “damage in the mind”.

Qatar’s World Cup organisers say that “everyone is welcome” to visit the country to watch the football, and that no-one will be discriminated against.

Peaceful protests have been planned by some players at the World Cup, which begins on Sunday. England’s Harry Kane and nine other captains of European teams will wear ‘One Love’ armbands during the tournament.

Arsenal defender Williamson, who led the Lionesses to glory at Euro 2022 this summer, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I want to use my voice.

“I think there’s times when it will be appropriate to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and be a force for change.

“I’ll support the boys but I haven’t got any interest in it as a fan really this year, which is sad.”

Christiansen pulls out of media duties over Qatar

Meanwhile, Everton midfielder Izzy Christiansen has withdrawn from her World Cup media duties.

Christiansen, 31, was due to work on three matches for BBC Radio 5 Live.

But she says she pulled out last week because she did not want to be involved in the tournament “in any capacity”.

“I think in the build-up to the tournament over the last couple of weeks there’s been a lot said, I’ve read a lot, and I’ve made the decision myself not to be involved in the tournament in any capacity,” Christiansen, who has 31 England caps, told BBC Radio Merseyside.

“I’m not comfortable with the conditions in Qatar and they certainly don’t ally with things we endorse in the Women’s Super League. We’ve come off the back of Rainbow Laces month, I’ve worn an armband with the Rainbow Laces flag on it, for me I’m not comfortable endorsing or broadcasting on the tournament.

“I’m not comfortable broadcasting on an event which has so many poor examples of human rights, laws and practices over in Qatar, so it’s been a pretty easy decision.

“I’m feeling quite relieved that I’ve made the decision.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We fully understand and respect Izzy’s decision. We look forward to working with her on our Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League coverage in the new year.”

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