Manchester United and Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes has expressed his disappointment at the staging of the World Cup in Qatar ahead of the start of the tournament next week.
Qatar has been the subject of criticism due to the country’s treatment of migrant workers and discriminative LGBTQ+ laws.
Leading players have been urged to speak out on human rights abuses, but Australia has been the only team competing at the tournament to release a collective statement criticising the host country.
But after Manchester United’s late win at Fulham on Sunday, which was the final Premier League fixture to be played before the start of the World Cup on December 20, Fernandes spoke critically of Qatar and became one of the first leading players competing at the tournament to do so.
Fernandes told Sky Sports: “Of course, it’s strange [the World Cup starting next week]. It’s not exactly the time we want to be playing in the World Cup. I think for everyone, players and fans, it’s not the best time. Kids will be at school, people will be working and the timings will not be the best for people to watch the games.
“We know the surroundings of the World Cup, what has been in the past few weeks, past few months, about the people that have died on the construction of the stadiums. We are not happy about that at all.
“We want football to be for everyone, everyone has to be included and involved in a World Cup because a World Cup is the world. It’s for everyone, it doesn’t matter who. These kind of things I think should not happen at any time. But for a World Cup, it’s more than football, it’s a party for fans, players, something that’s a joy to watch, should be done in a better way.”
Meanwhile, Fernandes’ team-mate and Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen added: “A lot has been written, there’s a lot of focus on how it’s happened and why it’s in Qatar. I don’t agree with how it’s happened, but we’re footballers and we play football. Change has to come from somewhere else.”