William may look at travelling to World Cup – if England reach final

The Prince of Wales may explore travelling to the World Cup if England reach the final of the tournament being staged by controversial hosts Qatar.

William, who is president of the Football Association, will not be attending due to a “busy winter schedule”, but it is understood his office may look at making arrangements if England manager Gareth Southgate’s team reach the final.

Qatar have faced increased scrutiny over its treatment of minorities with the Australian team becoming the first World Cup squad to release a collective statement criticising host Qatar’s human rights record.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
William is a keen Aston Villa fan and President of the Football Association (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Some 16 players, including ex-Arsenal and Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan, appear in the video in which they draw issue with the country’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said the prince had no plans to attend the World Cup, which begins on November 20, adding “we hadn’t planned to go due to the busy winter schedule”.

William is still expected to follow England’s progress closely and is likely to use social media to get behind the team.

He supported the England women’s team during their victorious run in the Euro 2022 tournament and presented the players with their winning medals after they beat Germany in the final at Wembley.

Veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he was arrested after staging the first LGBT protest in Qatar, interpreted William’s decision as a snub to World Cup hosts and urged celebrities and foreign governments to follow his leadership.

Tatchell added: “Everyone should stay away to signal their opposition to the despotic tyranny in Doha and to stand in solidarity with Qataris who are striving for democracy and human rights.

“The suggested excuse that Prince William’s decision is because of a diary clash is implausible, given that the dates of the World Cup have been well known for over a year.”

England v Germany – UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Final – Wembley Stadium
The Duke of Cambridge congratulates England’s Beth Mead following the national team’s victory in the Women’s Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium (Danny Lawson/PA)

William attended the 2010 World Cup with his brother the Duke of Sussex when South Africa hosted the event, but missed the 2014 tournament, hosted by Brazil, although Harry was a spectator, and did not travel to Russia for the 2018 event.

Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of priority campaigns, said: “Prince William’s diary commitments are obviously his own affair, but it’s inevitable that this will be seen by some as the prince ‘staying away’ from the World Cup in a subtle royal protest over human rights issues in Qatar.

“The manner in which Prince William’s attendance is already being discussed shows once again that human rights issues continue to overshadow the build-up to this World Cup.

“The onus is now very much on the Qatari authorities and on Fifa to respond to calls for a properly funded migrant worker compensation fund.

“We need to see the Qatari authorities ensuring that limited labour reforms are not allowed to fall into disrepair once the World Cup ends, and we need to see Qatar abolishing the country’s outrageous anti-LGBTI laws and regulations.”