Watford has canceled a friendly match against the Qatar national team, the English club said on Monday after two supporters' groups voiced concerns about the country's human rights record.
The two groups — Women of Watford (WOW) and Proud Hornets — had urged the club to display its support for "all human rights, the LGBT+ community and women's rights" at the game but the fixture will no longer take place.
"The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised," a club spokesperson said in a statement to British media.
WOW and @ProudHornets are delighted that #watfordfc has listened to our concerns and cancelled the game with Qatar. We look forward to continuing our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues. pic.twitter.com/iGHqatVRux— Women Of Watford FC (@WOWatfordFC) June 27, 2022
Qatar's Football Association (QFA) said it had received a number of offers from European clubs, including Watford, to play friendly matches.
"After studying the offers... we selected some friendly matches with various European teams and Watford was not among these matches that the team will play," the QFA said in a statement.
- A clarification from the Qatar Football Association regarding the match between our national team and Watford F.C. pic.twitter.com/NOMJkLsgY6— Qatar Football Association (@QFA_EN) June 27, 2022
The QFA did not mention the other European clubs involved.
Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state — which is hosting the World Cup later this year — while Human Rights Watch says Qatari laws discriminate against women and LGBT individuals.
WOW and Proud Hornets are delighted that Watford FC has listened to our concerns and cancelled the game with Qatar.
We look forward to continue our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues pic.twitter.com/5DAp05ukuH— Proud Hornets ️️⚧️ (@ProudHornets) June 27, 2022
"WOW and Proud Hornets are delighted that Watford FC has listened to our concerns and cancelled the game with Qatar," the two groups said in a joint statement on Twitter.
"We look forward to continuing our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues."
Watford were relegated from the top-flight Premier League last season after finishing 19th in the standings.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Osama Khairy in Cairo; editing by Clare Fallon)