Magda Eriksson says she would not want to go to Qatar as a gay woman
"I wouldn’t expect every one of them to have an opinion but for those who do, I’d encourage them to express it as they have a big platform."
Chelsea defender Magdalena Eriksson has urged more footballers to speak out about their concerns about the hosting of the 2022 men's World Cup by Qatar, admitting she would not choose to go to the country as a gay woman.
Since being awarded the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has faced intense scrutiny from rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers as well as its laws criminalising homosexuality.
Several of Europe's leading nations - including England - have the chance to book their place at the tournament as the final round of group qualifiers are played this week.
Writing in her column for iNews, Eriksson says that while she does not expect every player to have an opinion on the tournament, she would encourage those that do to speak out.
Having acknowledged how the Nordic football associations have put pressure on FIFA to address the reports of thousands of migrant worker deaths in the country, the Sweden international points out that, so far, little has been said by the players themselves.
"I’ve not heard too many individual players speaking out yet, and personally, I’m a bit disappointed with our Sweden players for not taking more of a stand," she said. "I wouldn’t expect every one of them to have an opinion but for those who do, I’d encourage them to express it as they have a big platform."
She adds: "I’m a football romantic so the business of “sportswashing” – be it Qatar using football to promote their country or the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United – makes me uneasy to start with.
"Moreover, I look at it as a gay woman who would never choose to go on holiday to a country like Qatar where homosexuality is illegal.
"Ultimately, I would argue that there are two ways to go – either you boycott it completely or you go there and make no secret of what you stand for. "
As well as encouraging players to use their platforms, Eriksson also said that she hoped it would lead to change at FIFA:
"My other hope is that we’ll get from this a more transparent Fifa. I’ve never had any dealings with Fifa but, as a player, I’d ask them to involve us footballers more as a way of making them more legitimate. And supporters too.
"In political science, you talk about top-down government or bottom-up government; you can rule in different ways. If you involve players, fans, the football community, it becomes more legitimate."
- England players to discuss what action they will take about human rights issues in Qatar
- Chelsea’s Pernille Harder on the importance of using her platform to express her values
- Josh Cavallo admits he would be ‘scared’ to play at Qatar World Cup