Chelsea women's captain blasts Qatar's regime over its homophobia

Chelsea women’s captain blasts Qatar’s regime over its homophobia, lack of women’s rights and the exploitation of migrant workers ahead of its men’s football World Cup

  • Captain, 28, ‘uneasy’ about Qatar using tournament to promote positive image
  • Magda Eriksson urged other footballers to speak out over the country’s regime
  • Top players accused of failing to speak out about civil rights issues in the state

Chelsea women’s captain Magda Eriksson has blasted Qatar’s regime over its homophobia, lack of women’s rights and the exploitation of migrant workers ahead of the men’s football World Cup in the country next year.

She urged other footballers to also speak out.

Eriksson, 28, a Sweden international, said she was ‘uneasy’ about Qatar using the tournament to promote a positive image when it has been accused of human rights abuses.

Magda Eriksson, 28, a Sweden international, said she was ‘uneasy’ about Qatar using the tournament to promote a positive image when it has been accused of human rights abuses

‘I look at it as a gay woman who would never choose to go on holiday to a country like Qatar where homosexuality is illegal,’ she told the i newspaper.

Top players and pundits, including presenter and former England star Gary Lineker, who are no strangers to making political statements, have been accused of failing to speak out about civil rights issues in the authoritarian Gulf state ahead of the tournament.

Under its strict Islamic regime, unmarried women and girls under the age of 25 are banned from travelling or leaving Qatar without being accompanied by a male relative. 

Chelsea Women lift the Continental Tyres League Cup after winning the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup Final match in March

Human rights groups say that more than 6,500 migrant workers from South Asia have died in Qatar in the past decade, many of them helping to build stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup.

Eriksson said: ‘Perhaps the most important thing we footballers can do is talk about the situation there – for the sake of the workers who’ve had no voice. When teams like England, and hopefully Sweden, qualify for the World Cup, I would genuinely encourage them to speak up if they do want to say something as in that way at least something good might come of this.’

Eriksson has been in a relationship with Chelsea team-mate Pernille Harder, a Denmark international, since 2014. They are outspoken gay rights campaigners.

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