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Stephen Kenny going to World Cup and insists boycott would be pointless

Kenny will watch eight games in a five-day stay in Qatar – his main aim to scout Euro 2024 opponents France and the Netherlands.

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a media conference. Photo: Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE


Ireland manager Stephen Kenny admits it’s “valid” to question the wisdom of attending the World Cup finals in Qatar, but he believes that a boycott of the finals by him or other national team coaches would achieve nothing.

Across his managerial career, Kenny has spoken out on social issues, particularly in his time at Dundalk, and he recently added his name to a campaign for those whose homes are afflicted by the Mica crisis.

He will watch eight games in a five-day stay in Qatar – his main aim to scout Euro 2024 opponents France and the Netherlands – but while he has heard arguments about Qatar’s record on human rights, migrant workers, theLGTBQ LGBTQ+ community and the treatment of females, he says staying away would be of no benefit.

“It’s a valid question. I think it’s something we have to consider,” Kenny says. “It was a surprise when two World Cups were handed out to Russia and Qatar together. The criteria based on giving the World Cup to Qatar at that time was questionable. There is no doubt about that.

“The whole idea of what boycotts achieve, going back to the Olympics in Russia and America, what did they actually achieve? Am I that significant that by me going, am I going to influence anything? I probably won’t.

“For me, for football reasons, to see the lessons that I learned from seeing Portugal in the Euros last year were very important.

“I am only there for five nights, I get to see France twice, and Holland. Eight games, five nights and that’s it, I’m out of it.

“I’m employed to do the job to the best of my ability. And I’m not doing it right if I’m not getting the opportunity to see the teams there. When I went to the European Championships to see Portugal, I saw two of their games and I felt that was hugely beneficial when we played Portugal.

“We had two tight games, two very tight games, we played well in both games, and I felt going to the Euros really helped, to see the team live at their optimum levels, and then how could we devise a strategy playing against that.

“I see all the arguments as well. Where do we go with Saudi Arabia and the mass beheadings? We’ve seen that in recent times, the treatment of women in Iran. Where do we go with all that? Where do we draw the line and where do we not? They are big questions overall,” added Kenny, who named a 25-man squad to face Norway and Malta next week.

Conor Hourihane and Jason Knight were not included, however, after Derby refused to release them.

League One sides are continuing to play through the forthcoming international break and there is no obligation to let players participate in friendly encounters because it’s not registered as a proper international window.

Shane Duffy misses out due to club and personal issues, with recalls for Jamie McGrath, Will Keane and Darragh Lenihan and a first senior call-up for Evan Ferguson and Will Smallbone.

Republic of Ireland squad (v Norway & Malta) – Goalkeepers: C Kelleher, G Bazunu, M Travers. Defenders: S Coleman, M Doherty, N Collins, J Egan, D O’Shea, D Lenihan, L Scales, J McClean, R Brady. Midfielders: J Cullen, J Hendrick, J Molumby, A Browne, W Smallbone, J McGrath. Forwards: M Obafemi, C Robinson, S Hogan, C Ogbene, W Keane, E Ferguson, C O’Dowda.

FIXTURES Thursday, November 17: Ireland v Norway, Aviva Stadium, 7.45

Sunday, November 20: Malta v Ireland, Ta’Qali National Stadium, 7.0 (Irish time)

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