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Championship club causes outrage after arranging friendly against Qatar national team

Championship club Watford causes outrage after arranging a pre-season friendly against the Qatar national team this summer.

Female and LGBT+ supporters of the Hornets are furious that the second tier side will play the Qataris at the end of next month’s training camp in Austria because of the repressive policies the World Cup host nation has towards women and homosexuals.

Newly-relegated Watford will be in Austria from July 5th to the 10th, with the Qatar game scheduled for the final day.


The Hornets’ pre-season schedule ahead of the 2022/23 Sky Bet Championship season can now be confirmed.

No friendlies will be played at Vicarage Road due to pitch care priorities after infrastructure relating to the Sir Elton John concerts has been removed from the stadium, however there will be a chance to watch Rob Edwards’ side in action in a fixture with Southampton at Wealdstone FC. The partnership with the Stones kicks off a year-long agreement that will see Watford FC Women play the majority of their 2022/23 home fixtures at Grosvenor Vale.

The Hornets will also be travelling to Austria for a training camp from July 5-10, with a friendly against the Qatar national team planned for the final day.

Additional midweek fixtures may still be arranged, however the current pre-season schedule is as follows:

– Watford v Cambridge United – Saturday July 2, 1pm (Watford FC training ground, behind closed doors)
– Watford v Qatar – Sunday July 10, 1pm (Austria)
– Watford v Bolton Wanderers – Tuesday July 12, 3pm (Watford FC training ground, behind closed doors)
– Watford v Wycombe Wanderers – Saturday July 16, 1pm (Watford FC training ground, behind closed doors)
– Watford v Southampton – Saturday July 23, 3pm (Grosvenor Vale, Wealdstone FC)


The Women of Watford FC Watford and Proud Hornets fan groups issued a joint statement on social media after being informed of the club’s plans.

They said: “WOW and Proud Hornets are very disappointed that Watford FC will play the Qatar national team at its training camp.

“We urge our team to display its support for all human rights, the LGBT+ community & women’s rights at the game and will discuss this directly with the club.”

As we know, Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup later this year but have come under huge scrutiny for their views on human rights and the LQBTQ+ community.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, while women’s rights has also caused ongoing debate and England captain Harry Kane said he’s talked about taking a unified stance on the human rights issues in Qatar with Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and Tottenham team mate Hugo Lloris.

Qatar recently played a friendly against Northern Irish champions Linfield in a friendly in Marbella on Tuesday.

But the World Cup hosts suffered a humiliating defeat just months before the start of the tournament.

The nation, who are 51st in FIFA’s world rankings, were beaten 1-0 by Linfield and the scoreline could have been much worse.

A first-half goal from forward Chris McKee was enough to hand the Belfast outfit victory.

A number of Qatar’s senior footballers played in the match, with seven of their starting line-up also playing in their 0-0 friendly international draw with Slovenia in March.

Felix Sanchez’s side will go head to head with Ecuador on the opening day of the tournament, before facing Senegal on November 25th and the Netherlands on November 29th in their remaining Group A fixtures. If they can’t even beat Linfield in a friendly, we really could end up seeing some huge scorelines at this upcoming WC.

Gary Neville recently faced backlash after filming in Qatar for Sky Sports’ The Overlap.

He, alongside Beckham, received criticism after it was announced that he has become an ambassador for Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup which will get underway in November.

Beckham was chosen for the ambassadorial role after playing for Qatar owned Paris Saint Germain towards the end of his career.

Amnesty International, the world’s leading human rights organisation has urged Beckham to use his role to raise awareness about the country’s human rights record.

iPaper’s Oliver Young-Myles tweeted: “Gary Neville’s Overlap with David Beckham was a PR exercise for Qatar & the World Cup. Brazen sportswashing. Not a single mention of the 6,500+ migrants who’ve died building stadiums or women’s/LGBTQ+ rights.”

“Just waffle about the nice facilities & ‘spreading the game.”

Football writer Grace Robertson wrote: “Normally they do these in some place that’s important to the guest. This one is in Qatar because… Qatar paid Beckham a lot of money to be an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup.”

SBS News’ Tom Canetti said: “Garry Neville @Gnev2 has always championed rights for the working class in England against the elite. Would love to see him start doing the same thing in Qatar, instead of promoting an event built on modern slavery.”

Tariq Panja of the New York Times said: “See David Beckham has given a long interview, discussed England’s chances at the World Cup in Qatar. But not asked about his role as an ambassador for that tournament in return for an eye watering sum of money.”

“More than 18 months since he agreed the deal and never once said why.”

As mentioned, Championship club Watford causes outrage after arranging a friendly against the Qatar national team…

@WatfordPod: Pre-Season Schedule. Disappointed in the club for naivety shown in accepting a match with Qatar. Hopefully they can see sense, back-out and apologise for the insensitive, poorly judged decision. We stand with @WOWatfordFC and @ProudHornets

@Nicozyffs: Qatar. Shame on you

@Richwfc2: Oh wow even by Watford’s standards in recent times of not reading the room this is just well staggering , Elton in town next week could be some awkwardness around , blimey 👀

@TennisFanKim: For a club that prides itself on inclusion I’m incredibly disappointed to see a fixture against the Qatar national team scheduled

@2215Adam: Qatar??? 🤮

@Ngonge69JOHN: Qatar??? Wow, talk about not reading the room. You promote the rainbow laces (quite rightly) and then do that. Very odd.

@RichTubber: Qatar fixture is pretty disgraceful. We know who our life president is right? Sort it out lads, for fuck sake. Why are we even playing a national team in the first place

@darren_wfc4ever: Why are we playing Qatar? Don’t we have a zero tolerance policy on discrimination

@LMwatfordfc: Total misjudgment to provide support to Qatar @qfa_en and insult so many valued members of the #Watfordfc family. Please withdraw from this charade which is harmful to our club. Why sacrifice our values for those of such a dreadful regime? #LGBTQ #ClimateCrisis

@wfcbr: Yeah after all that good work you’ve done to get fans back on board- you go and arrange a fixture against a country who commit such horrible acts every day. I bet @ProudHornets are delighted with this decision. Absolutely ridiculous- cancel it now

@wells_matt: Disgusted at the hypocrisy of playing Qatar, shameful decision and hope it’s cancelled

@james__glen: Whomever it was who signed us up to that Qatar game really should consider their position at the club. You were doing so well.

@Kiai_Kas: Has someone lost their mind? #WE are playing Qatar? I thought #WE promoted equality, inclusivity and football for all. Qatar’s treatment of women and gay people is horrendous. #WatfordFC

@PatMcNicholas: Bit of a f*ck you to the fans but sure

@roarers: Hey @WatfordFC how much more tone deaf can you get? Does our much vaunted ‘family club’ no longer have any values? Playing Qatar? Really? Cancel this fixture.

@Lakey_169: This is shameful. I love the club but what the hell are you thinking? Qatar? Our life President is Elton John! You have a strong female following and a female team. It’s a disgrace. That match should be cancelled immediately.

@TheBoyPenney: Playing Qatar is a bad choice. Regardless of it being behind closed doors. Considering Elton’s backing of the club and @ProudHornets there’s no benefit. They are rubbish, we need proper friendlies.

@shaunewalsh: Well said. Ignore the ignorant noises off. We all have to take a stand and not be captured by such blatant sportswashing. We have an opportunity to reassert the values of this club. I hope @WatfordFC listen, reflect and change their minds here.

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