Conor Coady has stressed the England team’s belief that “football is for everybody” as they prepare for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Qatar’s hosting of the tournament has been overshadowed by numerous controversies, including the country’s human rights record, its treatment of migrant workers and over its LGBTQ+ laws.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, defender Coady said: “From our own point of view, we’ve spoken about it as a team. We have come together and had a chat about it in meetings.
“We have said the same thing – we really believe that football is for absolutely everybody. That is what we believe as a team, as people and as players ourselves. That’s what we want to focus on.
“We have come to a country where we will respect rules, and respect everything that goes on in this country. We’re all here for one thing, and that’s to play football, but in terms of what we believe as a team and as players is football is for all, everyone to be included in our great sport.”
Asked if he felt it was sad that many England fans felt uncomfortable supporting the team in such a country, Coady said: “Of course it is. We want every England supporter to come and support us. They push us, they drive us, they always do that no matter what the competition. That is what we want as a team.
“We will keep on believing in what we believe as players and as a team, as players, to try to help but at the minute we are in a situation where we are here and we will respect everything that is going on in Qatar but we stand for what we stand for and we will keep moving forward with that.”
Coady, who is currently on loan at Everton from Wolves, was also a member of England’s squad at Euro 2020 but did not feature in their run to the final.
Despite that lack of action, he relished the tournament and he insists his attitude will be no different even if he does not play this time.
He said: “It’s exactly the same. Every camp we go on we look at it as an opportunity to play together, to enjoy a different environment.
“The way the lads come together and the spirit that gets created is incredible.”
The heat players will have to train in has been a major concern ever since Qatar was awarded the tournament.
Coady admits it is tough to work in but is not complaining.
He said: “It was hard this morning but it was something we needed to get used to it, to feel it, to understand it. It’s tough – I’m not going to say it’s not – but we’re professional players and we understand what we’re doing.
“Thinking it’s too hot will get us nowhere. We’re going out there to embrace it.”