Gary Neville defends World Cup being held in homophobic Qatar amidst backlash over his new gig

gary neville

Gary Neville defends World Cup being held in homophobic Qatar, following backlash over his new gig there


Former footballer Gary Neville has responded to criticism he has received since announcing he will join beIN Sports as a pundit for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.


Football governing body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has been heavily condemned since announcing that the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar, where homosexuality is still criminalised, and same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government.

Currently in Qatar, same sex intercourse is punishable by flogging, stoning to death or up to seven years in prison and multiple appeals to suspend these laws during the World Cup were thrown out. 

gary neville


Despite reasonable and established concerns over Qatar’s horrendous record on human and LGBT+ rights – and despite David Beckham facing huge backlash for becoming the face of the 2022 tournament, going so far as calling the country where being gay is illegal “perfect” – Gary Neville recently revealed he will join Qatar state’s beIN Sports as a pundit.


In his announcement, Neville vowed to continue shining a light on some of the wider issues relating to the country’s hosting of the tournament, adding that he will split his time between roles with beIN and ITV Sport.

 Al Janoub stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar
The Al Janoub stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, one of the venues for the competition that starts in late November. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images


Responding to the online backlash, Neville argued that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – who own Manchester City and Newcastle FC respectively – have a similar position on human rights, suggesting Qatar had been unfairly scrutinised.


“Qatar have had Amnesty International and the International Labour Organisation all over them for the last 10 years because of the World Cup. Saudi Arabia have come into our country to own Newcastle and they’ve got terrible human rights issues over there and people work for them in this country,” Neville told the Daily Mail.


“We either decide that we collaborate with these countries and try and impact change through football – which is what I think we should always do – or we say we’re never going to let them play sport, we’re never going to have a World Cup there, we’re never going to allow them to compete against us because they don’t have what would be as progressive rights as they should have.”


“For me, I can understand where the criticism comes from because I put myself out there and to be fair try to defend people’s rights in this country all the time, and I’ll continue to do that through football in different countries as well.”

“It [criticism] does not bother me in any way shape or form because I feel I’ve got quite a consistent and strong position on it.”


“That is the reality of where I’m at with it”, continued the footballer. “There’s no-one that I think wants workers’ rights to be better than me, there’s no-one who wants women’s rights, equality or diversity more than me, I absolutely believe in it.”


“When I highlight these issues, I can do so from a position whereby if I am covering eight games on beIN in a World Cup, and those issues come up or there’s an incident outside the stadium, I will highlight them. I will never shy away from it.”



Still, people online claimed Neville attempting to justify the controversial role so he could keep people happy and still get paid.

Gary responded to that criticism on Twitter, saying: “If you think I make decisions based on money you’re wrong but happy for you to go with it! The money will make no difference to me whatsoever.”


Many Twitter users slammed his justifications, with one saying: “Will you be donating all the money Qatar are paying you to LGBT charities, as being Gay in Qatar is punishable by death, or to the families of the estimated 6,000 slave labourers who died building the stadiums, or will you just pocket the £250,000 blood money they are paying you.”


More from Twitter – for an idea of the overall vibe – below: