under-fire | 

Gary Neville takes aim at Prince William as he defends his World Cup position

Neville has been an outspoken critic of the human rights issues in Qatar, yet opted to take a role with the local TV network

Gary Neville

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Gary Neville has insisted he does not feel conflicted by his decision to work at the Qatar World Cup for host broadcaster beIN Sports.

Neville has been an outspoken critic of the human rights issues in Qatar, yet opted to take a role with the local TV network amid a barrage of criticism.

Despite highlighting his position by hosting a detailed documentary for Sky Sports highlighting the migrant worker issues surrounding the building of World Cup stadiums, Neville has come under more fire for being a prominent broadcaster at the most controversial World Cup in history.

Now he has offered a defence of his position, after admitting the criticism has been challenging in the last few weeks.

"I don't feel conflicted... in the last few weeks that's come under huge scrutiny,” Neville ITV Sport.

"I accept that position because I'm there to be shot at, and people have criticised me heavily as well as our colleagues over on the BBC who were yesterday.

"The reality of it is, my view on it quite simply is that I detest workers' rights abuses, I hate the idea of people not being paid enough money, working in poor conditions, the idea of people not having good accommodation. The women's rights and human rights abuses. I can't stand it.

“But I also have relationships with people in this part of the world and have done for many many years. Those relationships are long standing in our country.

"The fact that we buy most of our energy from the Middle East, that they own our banks, and the Royal Family have relationships with the Middle East - both sporting and charitable.

"You think our (British) government and political parties have relationships with the Middle East.

"They own London Heathrow airport, they own the London stock exchange. It's football that's brought the scrutiny. And football tournaments that have brought the scrutiny on issues that exist in these parts of the world.”

Neville then criticised Prince William, over his decision to avoid attending the World Cup, even though his father King Charles is part of a charity that takes substantial payments from a senior Qatari politician.

"If Prince William doesn’t want to come to this tournament but he’s okay with his father taking charitable donations – that’s fine,” he added.

"If the MPs don’t want to come over but are happy to take money from them in our country for their political parties that’s fine with me, but I see it as footballers and ex-footballers coming under criticism.

“In my point of view, football should stand up, footballers should stand up, there’s another issue with the OneLove armband, the political and social issues that I’m delighted to talk about.

"There’s a conversation to be had because my point always is, should there be a World Cup in all parts of the world? Should there be a World Cup in the Middle East? Should there be a World Cup in Arab countries? There almost definitely should be.

“If we’re going to do that, we’re going to come across some countries in these parts of the world but can we not enjoy a sporting tournament and come over and challenge the system over here but bring football to different parts of the world, try and advance things.

“I will continue coming to this part of the world and continue to keep going to south east Asia.

"Things like our energy sector, our air force, our banks, our political parties, they seem to want to shy away from their relationships with this part of the world but football will get scrutiny and be the one penalised.”

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