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England stars to land in Qatar on Gay Pride jet in show of defiance against World Cup hosts

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England’s World Cup squad will land in Qatar on a Gay Pride jet in a show of defiance over the host nation amid concerns over the treatment of LGBTQ+ people at the tournament.

The 26-man squad, led by manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane, will make the seven-hour flight to Doha on a ‘Rain Bow’ Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus.

The aircraft features a picture of Oscar, a cartoon man holding a Union Jack flag while wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, beneath the cabin, The Sun reports.

FA chiefs proposed the idea to highlight concerns over gay rights in Qatar, where same-sex relationships remain a criminal offence and whose World Cup Ambassador last week said homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’.

Anyone found participating in same-sex sexual activity in Qatar can be punished by up to seven years in prison, while there are also concerns about thousands of migrant workers having died in Qatar since it won the rights to host the World Cup. 

FIFA has urged countries to focus on football during the competition, but Southgate has said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that England will do so.

He said: ‘We’re very strong on inclusivity. We understand the challenges that this tournament brings . . . the human rights challenges.

‘We’ve always spoken about issues we think should be talked about, particularly ones we feel we can affect.’

The 26-man squad, led by manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane, will make the seven-hour flight to Doha on a'Rain Bow' Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus

The 26-man squad, led by manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane, will make the seven-hour flight to Doha on a ‘Rain Bow’ Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus

The aircraft features a picture of Oscar, a cartoon man holding a Union Jack flag while wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, beneath the cabin

The aircraft features a picture of Oscar, a cartoon man holding a Union Jack flag while wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, beneath the cabin

The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time

The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time 

FIFA has urged countries to focus on football during the competition, but Southgate has said it is'highly unlikely' that England will do so

FIFA has urged countries to focus on football during the competition, but Southgate has said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that England will do so 

Homosexuality is illegal in the Islamic nation, resulting in jail terms of up to seven years

Khalid Salman – a former Qatar international footballer – said people had to accept the country’s rules 

Foreign Secretary to go to Qatar World Cup despite criticism on LGBTQ rights

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said he will travel to Qatar to attend the World Cup despite facing criticism for telling gay fans not to protest while visiting the country where homosexuality is illegal. 

The Cabinet minister gave the first confirmation on Monday that he will attend the football tournament controversially being hosted by the Middle Eastern nation. 

Labour MP Chris Bryant accused him of handing gay fans travelling to Qatar a “slap in the face” by telling them to comply with the local laws. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his frontbench are boycotting the tournament – which begins on Sunday – over concerns for LGBTQ rights, the rights of women and for the workers who have lost their lives. 

But Mr Cleverly told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: ‘I will be going.’

He said he would be attending ‘for a number of reasons’, adding: ‘Because I’m a foreign secretary and it is my job to ensure British visitors stay safe.’

He added: ‘I’ve visited Qatar in the lead-up to the World Cup and when I go to the World Cup I will be speaking to the security authorities to ensure that English and Welsh and whatever other British fans who are going to the World Cup remain safe.’

Kane, meanwhile, has previously shown his support by wearing a rainbow armband while playing for Tottenham.

The plane has been chartered solely for for use of the England squad, staff and Football Association officials. It contains 44 upper class, 56 premium and 235 economy seats.

A source told The Sun: ‘It’s no coincidence this particular plane was chosen It perfectly illustrates the concerns of the England party and those of every civilised nation taking part in the tournament.’

It comes after a World Cup ambassador told German television broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’, as the Gulf state prepares to host the global tournament next week.

In an interview filmed in Doha and to be screened later on Tuesday, former Qatari international Khalid Salman addressed the issue of homosexuality, which is illegal in the conservative Muslim country.

Some football players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the event, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, whom rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against.

The country expects more than one million visitors for the World Cup.

‘They have to accept our rules here,’ Salman said, in an excerpt of the interview.

‘(Homosexuality) is haram. You know what haram (forbidden) means?’ he said.

When asked why it was haram, Salman said: ‘I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.’

The interview was then immediately stopped by an accompanying official.

Organisers have repeatedly said everyone is welcome in Qatar during the World Cup.

Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup but the small nation has come under intense pressure in recent years for its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws.

The England squad pose for a photograph during a Nike event at St George's Park on Monday afternoon

The England squad pose for a photograph during a Nike event at St George’s Park on Monday afternoon

The country’s human rights record has led to calls for teams and officials to boycott the November 20 – December 18 tournament.

Last week FIFA came under scrutiny after Sky News got hold of a letter that the governing body had circulated around the federations heading to Qatar.

‘Please, let’s now focus on the football!’ Infantino and Fatma Samoura wrote to the 32 nations due to compete in the World Cup.

‘We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.

‘But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.’

England and Wales – among a host of other nations – plan to wear rainbow-coloured armbands at the tournament with the words ‘One Love’ etched across them.  

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said he will travel to Qatar to attend the World Cup despite facing criticism for telling gay fans not to protest while visiting the country where homosexuality is illegal. 

The Cabinet minister gave the first confirmation on Monday that he will attend the football tournament controversially being hosted by the Middle Eastern nation. 

Labour MP Chris Bryant accused him of handing gay fans travelling to Qatar a “slap in the face” by telling them to comply with the local laws. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his frontbench are boycotting the tournament – which begins on Sunday – over concerns for LGBTQ rights, the rights of women and for the workers who have lost their lives. 

But Mr Cleverly told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: ‘I will be going.’

He said he would be attending ‘for a number of reasons’, adding: ‘Because I’m a foreign secretary and it is my job to ensure British visitors stay safe.’

He added: ‘I’ve visited Qatar in the lead-up to the World Cup and when I go to the World Cup I will be speaking to the security authorities to ensure that English and Welsh and whatever other British fans who are going to the World Cup remain safe.’

James Maddison gets No 25 and Jack Grealish will wear coveted No 7 as Gareth Southgate confirms his squad numbers… while England stars try out their official World Cup clothing at St George’s Park

By Spencer Morgan for MailOnline

England have confirmed their squad numbers for the World Cup in Qatar and they may give some hints as to who will be in Gareth Southgate‘s starting XI.

The Three Lions arrived at the team’s St George’s Park complex on Monday to report for duty before they make their way over to the Middle East.

And now the players, who all modelled their new team gear at a Nike event on Monday, know what number they’ll be donning on their back during the tournament.

The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time

The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time 

England have confirmed their squad numbers for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar which begins next week

England have confirmed their squad numbers for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar which begins next week 

Harry Maguire (6), John Stones (5), Luke Shaw (3) and Kyle Walker (2) have been handed the lower numbers, suggesting they could be in the preferred back line.

Jack Grealish takes the coveted No 7 shirt while Raheem Sterling has the No 10.

Marcus Rashford will wear the No 11 which could be a good sign for his chances of playing a significant role.

The forward has found form at the right time after not featuring for the three Lions since the Euro 2020 final.

Gareth Southgate may have given some hints as to his team selection with the numbers the players have been given

Gareth Southgate may have given some hints as to his team selection with the numbers the players have been given

The England squad pose for a photograph during a Nike event at St George's Park on Monday afternoon

The England squad pose for a photograph during a Nike event at St George’s Park on Monday afternoon

Left to right: Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford looked in high spirits during the event

Left to right: Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford looked in high spirits during the event 

M&S ENGLAND RANGE 

Pure wool textured suit: £335

Merino wool zip up jacket: £65

Merino wool crew neck jumper: £45 

Three Lions suit carrier: £89

Three Lions woven boxers: £20 

 

Jordan Pickford also looks set to retain his place between the sticks after being handed the No 1 shirt.

James Maddison, however, may not be very encouraged by receiving the No 25 shirt. 

England begin their tournament against Iran next Monday before facing the USA and Wales.

England and Marks & Spencer have partnered to release a new menswear range, designed to reflect the personality and individuality of the team.

It is made up of relaxed, modern tailoring, merino wool separates, footwear and accessories. 

Speaking ahead of their journey over to Qatar, Southgate has already revealed his plan for the next few days in that work on the training pitch will be extremely limited.

Speaking at his squad announcement, the Three Lions’ boss said: ‘With the players we want to talk to them about the excitement of going to a World Cup. 

‘We understand the need to comment on the off-field things that surround this tournament, but we want the players to feel that enthusiasm that they’ve had since kids.

Manchester City duo Phil Foden (left) and Jack Grealish shared an embrace for the cameras at St George's Park

Manchester City duo Phil Foden (left) and Jack Grealish shared an embrace for the cameras at St George’s Park

‘We want to fuel that. The first couple of days we won’t be on the training pitch, bar a couple [of players] that will need to do something. We want them to transition from a hectic club schedule to thinking about England. We want to talk to them about the fact that this, whatever happens over the next four weeks, has been the second-best period for English football. We can make it the best.

‘It’s the challenge mindset. How can we take the supporters on another journey, like the one they loved four years ago and loved last summer? That’s why we do it and that’s what makes playing for England special.’ 

England are set to fly over to Qatar on Tuesday, meaning they will have less than a week to accilimatise to the testing conditions that will welcome them when they step foot onto the pitch.

James Maddison (left) and Declan Rice also seemed to be enjoying the occasion in their England bucket hats

James Maddison (left) and Declan Rice also seemed to be enjoying the occasion in their England bucket hats

ENGLAND SQUAD NUMBERS 

1: JORDAN PICKFORD

2: KYLE WALKER

3: LUKE SHAW

4: DECLAN RICE

5: JOHN STONES

6: HARRY MAGUIRE

7: JACK GREALISH

8: JORDAN HENDERSON

9: HARRY KANE

10: RAHEEM STERLING

11: MARCUS RASHORD

12: KIERAN TRIPPIER

13: NICK POPE

14: KALVIN PHILLIPS

15: ERIC DIER

16: CONOR COADY

17: BUKAYO SAKA

18: TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

19: MASON MOUNT

20: PHIL FODEN

21: BEN WHITE

22: JUDE BELLINGHAM

23: AARON RAMSDALE

24: CALLUM WILSON

25: JAMES MADDISON

26: CONOR GALLAGHER



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