Football fans in England would support Qatar boycott

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 11, 2022, 10:08 AM GMT+0

Seven in ten Britons say it is unacceptable for Qatar to host international sporting events

On the eve of the 2022 World Cup, a new YouGov survey shows widespread dissatisfaction with the decision to allow Qatar to host, and strong support for boycotting the event – even from football fans in England and Wales.

This survey was also conducted in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA, results for which are available here.

Britons say it is unacceptable for international sporting events to be held in Qatar

Two thirds of Britons (67%) have a negative view of Qatar. This figure is even higher among football fans (78%), who are less likely to answer “don’t know” than the wider population.

While both groups are slightly more likely to say it is ok for Qatar to host international sporting events, a majority in both cases (58% of all Britons and 71% of football fans) think it is unacceptable.

Most Britons support boycotting the World Cup – including England football fans

England captain Harry Kane, as well as other European captains, will wear a ‘One Love’ campaign armband at the World Cup games to protest at discrimination that minority groups, particularly LGBTQ+ people, face in Qatar.

Most English people (54%) and football fans (62%) support individual players in raising awareness of or making criticisms about Qatar's practices on human rights, women’s rights and LGBT issues during the tournament. Similar numbers (58% and 67%, respectively) say the same of the England side as a whole.

Indeed, a majority of Britons (52-63%) and football fans (61-72%) support all groups we asked about protesting the Qatari human rights record at the tournament, including national football governing bodies, broadcasters and pundits, and national dignitaries like politicians.

Across the world, protest groups are calling for a boycott of the World Cup. Last week German fans held up ‘Boycott Qatar 2022’ banners at Bundesliga matches, and several French cities have announced they will not show World Cup matches in public places or set up “fan zones” in protest at the tournament. Here in the UK, Labour have signalled that they will boycott the event, although notably Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford is set to break his party’s pledge and attend the tournament.

Were Drakeford to stay at home, he would have the backing of the six in ten Britons and football fans (60% and 63%, respectively) who say they would support national dignitaries like the royal family, top politicians and diplomats boycotting the World Cup.

Levels of support in Britain for boycotting the World Cup largely match those for raising awareness or levelling criticism at Qatar at the tournament itself (although this is notably not the case in some of the other countries surveyed).