WATFORD, England (AP) — Fan groups said they persuaded English soccer club Watford on Monday to cancel a planned preseason game against Qatar over human rights issues.
The supporter groups Proud Hornets, representing LGBT fans, and Women of Watford published a joint statement expressing delight that club officials “listened to our concerns and canceled the game with Qatar.”
The World Cup host nation’s laws and society have come under increased scrutiny in the past decade. Human Rights Watch assesses “discriminatory laws against women continue” and LGBT people face discrimination in the emirate.
Watford, which was relegated from the Premier League in May, has a training camp in Austria in July and was in talks to play the warmup game. The Qatar squad has spent most of June in Spain ahead of other planned training camps in Europe.
The club did not respond to a request for comment, though British media quoted an unnamed official saying “it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play.”
Watford’s best-known fan and honorary life president, Elton John, is a long-time activist for LGBT rights.
The fan groups said: “We look forward to continue our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues.”
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The Associated Press