Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said players and managers are not politicians as the 2022 World Cup comes under constant scrutiny.
Host Qatar has been criticized for its stance on same-sex relationships, its human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers.
Klopp also says that the decision to play the final there “wasn’t right”.
“Don’t put Gareth Southgate in a situation where he has to constantly talk about everything,” Klopp said.
“He’s not a politician, just like I’m not. He has an opinion but he’s not a politician.”
FIFA has written to all 32 teams competing in the World Cup Saying “to focus on football now”.
Klopp added that now is the time to “let the players and the manager play alone”.
“[Southgate] He’s the England manager, let him do it, and if you want to write something else about it, do it,” Klopp said.
“But [something] ask yourself and not us [and writing] ‘Klopp said’ and ‘Southgate said’ and all that stuff as if it would change anything.”
“Journalists should do more”
In 2010, Qatar won the rights to the World Cup after winning a vote by the 22 FIFA members.
Qatar was accused of paying Fifa officials £3 million ($3.7 million) in bribes to secure their protection, but was cleared after a two-year investigation.
At the time, FIFA president Sepp Blatter supported Qatar’s bid, however since then he said the organization has made the wrong decision.
For the first time, the World Cup is not held in the summer due to the temperature in Qatar at that time of year, and six of the eight stadiums in use had to be built.
When asked if it was the football people who made the decision to win Qatar’s bid, Klopp replied: “The football people? No, it was the football politicians. You mean the Brazilian boy. [Ricardo Teixeira]?
“The reporters should do more. Do you really think we did enough in the first place? Now you’re doing a story after it happened, coming out of the corner and pressuring the players with questions.
“There is Harry Kane says he will wear it [the armband], other guys say ‘please don’t make a political statement’. It’s not good.
“This was organized by other people, and I’m not saying he quit, but we all quit. Everything was on the table.
“There are fantastic people there as well and it’s not that it’s all bad, but the way it happened wasn’t right,” added Klopp.
“It was already clear what was going to happen and now ‘oh, yes, it’s difficult to build a stadium in Qatar because we have to do it in their summer too and it’s 50 degrees’. That’s not good for humans to be outside and do hard, physical work.
“There were many opportunities to say afterwards: ‘by the way, the process is not fair’. Many people took money for the wrong reasons. Nothing changed. How can this happen?”.
England’s Harry Kane and nine other European team captains will be in uniform ‘One Love’ bracelets, to promote diversity and inclusion, and as a message against discrimination.
Same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalized in Qatar.
They have now asked the England team consider making a show or gesture of solidarity with the women of Iran fighting for their civil liberties” when the two countries meet in the World Cup opener on November 21.
Klopp added, “It’s a tournament and the players go there and do the best for their countries.”
“I see it from a football point of view and I don’t like the players to be in a situation where they have to send a message every now and then,” he said.
“You are all journalists, you should have sent a message and you didn’t write the most critical article about it.
“It’s not all good for the players, I really have to say. But it’s here and we all let it happen.
“I’ll watch the games, of course, but it’s different from the other World Cups.”
A spokesperson for Qatar’s Supreme Commission for Sending and Legacy (SC) said: “We commend footballers for using their platforms to raise awareness on important issues.
“We have made every effort to ensure that this World Cup has a transformative impact on improving lives, especially for those involved in building the competition and non-competition arenas we care about.”
Qatar World Cup officials also stressed that “everyone is welcome” to visit the country to watch football, and said no one would be discriminated against.
“Letter highlights systemic flaws”
However, LGBT+ campaigners in England and Wales have criticized Fifa over the letter sent to Qatar’s 32 competing nations.
Three Lions Pride, Rainbow Wall and Pride in Football released a joint statement condemning world football’s governing body.
“This letter highlights systemic failures to adequately address human rights issues within global football,” they said.
“For almost 12 years, the global football community has been calling on FIFA to provide answers to these issues.”
They added that FIFA had failed to “provide the real assurances about the safety of fans that are needed by those thinking of traveling to the World Cup”.
“Let’s be clear, talking about human rights is neither ideological nor political. It’s just asking for dignity and the ability for people to see their groups without fear of abuse,” they said.
“This appears to be an attempt by competing nations to prevent the voices of affected communities, such as migrant workers and the LGBT+ community, who have consistently said this is not a World Cup for everyone.”