The Hornets have pencilled in an exhibition game against the Qatari national side, who are continuing preparations ahead of hosting the World Cup later this year
Championship side Watford have come in for criticism after scheduling a friendly against the Qatar national team this summer.
The Hornets are due to face the Qataris next month during a week-long stay at a training camp in Austria.
Qatar controversially won the rights to stage the World Cup back in 2010. For the first time ever the tournament will take place in winter, running from November 21 to December 18.
The country’s views on human rights, homosexuality and women’s rights have come under huge scrutiny since the winning bid was confirmed. Representatives from Watford’s LGBT+ supporters’ group and the women’s supporters group have both slammed the decision for their club to arrange the exhibition game.
In a joint statement, they said: “Women of Watford (WOW) and Proud Hornets are very disappointed that Watford FC will play the Qatar national team at its training camp. We urge our team to display its support for all human rights, the LGBT+ community & women’s rights at the game and will discuss this directly with the club.”
This year’s tournament will be Qatar’s first time at a World Cup and their group contains Ecaudor, the Netherlands and Senegal.
Watford, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, begin life back in the second tier with a home game against Sheffield United on August 1. The new campaign also brings yet another new manager after Rob Edwards was poached from Forest Green Rovers, who he led to the League Two title last season.
Speaking about the club’s hire-and-fire policy, Edwards says he is looking forward to the challenge and that the club’s penchant for sacking managers does not faze him.
“Maybe this is wrong of me to say, I don’t know, but I feel that’s why I’m here,” he said in an interview with the Athletic.
“I think the club has seen it a different way. The club are thinking, ‘Hang on, we’ve got an opportunity here. We want to go down this route. We’ve identified Rob as a person that can help us build something’. It’s been a funny couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to working with the players and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to have an influence at this football club on the pitch, as well as off it.
“Conversations that I’ve had with Scott Duxbury (CEO/chairman) and Gino (Pozzo, owner); I couldn’t have been more clear on what’s important to me in terms of building a culture and environment to try and build success. You can’t get away from the fact there’s been the turnover of head coach or managers over the last few years, but at no stage over the last couple of weeks have I felt that sort of pressure is there for me.
“I’ll put that pressure on myself because I want to do well and I want the football club to do well.”