Gareth Southgate: Hard to speak on politics as England boss – ESPN


Gab Marcotti explains that Trent Alexander-Arnold would not be a like for like replacement for Kyle Walker in the England squad. (0:42)
Gareth Southgate has said his position as England manager means he must “think about the consequences” of his comments about political matters after being asked about the situation in Iran.
Protests broke out in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in September after she was arrested for wearing a headscarf incorrectly.
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England face Iran in their Group B opener at the World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21 and the fixture continues to be overshadowed by the demonstrations amid calls for the nation to be expelled from the tournament.
Some Iran players have offered their support for the protesters in recent weeks with posts on their social media accounts, but there has been little visible reference to the protests for greater rights for women in Iran from non-Iranian players.
Southgate and his England players have made clear their support for LGBTQ+ campaigners in Qatar by confirming captain Harry Kane will wear a rainbow-flag armband during the tournament.
But in an interview with the Iranian football podcast Gol Bezan, when asked about the situation in Iran, Southgate said it was difficult to speak out on political matters as England manager without full knowledge of the issues.
“I think there is a balance,” Southgate said. “Our first job is to create a good football team, and with our national teams, there is always the opportunity to affect things beyond football.
“When that’s been in a situation that has directly affected us, for example experiences of racism as a team with players from lots of different backgrounds, who have hade tough journeys in their lives, we have been able to speak about those things authentically and we have been able to make a difference.
“But then there are other things that are politically more difficult to be clear on the types of messages.
“With the tournament being in Qatar, we have had to do a lot of research and be clear on what we might be able to affect and what we might not be able to affect — what areas the government is dealing with.
Marcotti: Why Iran are under more pressure than any WC side
“I have a responsibility as a national manager, I can’t just speak and not think about the consequences of the position I hold, so I am always assessing all of those things and, where we can make a difference, we’d like to.
“And where we’re not as informed or there are cultural differences, we also acknowledge and are respectful that other countries have differences as well.
“It is complicated and I’m not a university-educated guy — I’m a guy who left school at 16 and is trying his best to help where I can.”
England travel to Qatar as favourites to win Group B ahead of Iran, Wales and the United States, with Southgate’s team also regarded as one of the teams with the best chance of winning the tournament.
Having reached the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the final of Euro 2020, Southgate accepts he and his team are under pressure to win in Qatar.
“In the end, pressure is what we decide,” Southgate said. “The biggest pressure is your voice in your head.
“There is always going to be pressure on an England team and we have to be able to deal with it.”



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