The England forward Beth Mead said on Thursday she would not show her support for this year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Mead, who is in a relationship with her Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema, told BBC Radio 4 the ban on homosexuality in Qatar was “the complete opposite to what I believe and respect”.
“It’s not something I will be backing or promoting,” Mead said. “It’s disappointing in the sense that there’s no respect on a lot of levels, even though it’s a game of football.”
England’s captain, Harry Kane, and captains of seven other European nations who have qualified for the World Cup have said they will wear an anti-discrimination armband during the tournament in Qatar, which starts on 20 November.
“Although I’m cheering for the boys who are going to play football there, from the minute it was announced I thought it wasn’t the best idea,” Mead said. “We’re in the 21st century and you fall in love with who you fall in love with. It doesn’t matter who they are.”
Mead said she never felt she had to hide her relationship with Miedema. “In the men’s game they feel they have to make a statement of the situation. It’s been a culture, and that culture needs to shift. Is it a generation thing? Is it a culture thing in the game? I would love to help try and bridge that gap to just try and make it the norm.”
The 27-year-old won the Golden Boot and was named player of the tournament at this year’s European Championship for her instrumental role in helping England win their first major title.