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Dier disappointed World Cup overshadowed by controversy

England defender Eric Dier admits his experience of the World Cup has been tarnished by the controversy surrounding host nation Qatar.

With England’s opening game against Iran just two days away, Dier would usually have been quizzed about his team’s World Cup challenge when he faced the media on Saturday.

But instead the 28-year-old, playing in his second World Cup, was peppered with questions about the host of issues involving Qatar that have overshadowed the build-up to the tournament.

To his credit, the erudite Dier didn’t shirk the potential public relations minefield.

He tackled the deaths of migrant workers during World Cup construction projects, the late decision to ban alcohol from most areas of stadiums and the row over whether or not team captains will wear ‘OneLove’ rainbow armbands.

“It’s extremely difficult for us as players. We know these topics are going to be addressed,” Dier told reporters at England’s training camp in Doha.

“A lot of things have already happened, things that are very disappointing. They will always be on my mind.

“In the building of the stadiums for example. Obviously that’s a terrible situation.

“Of course it’s taken a lot away (from the tournament), because we are sitting here talking about it instead of the football. But we can’t hide from it. It’s here. It would be wrong to ignore it.”

On the decision by FIFA and Qatari officials to ban alcohol from stadiums, except in hospitality areas for high-paying spectators, Dier said: “Personally I’d like to think you can enjoy yourself without alcohol. 

“It’s up to us on the pitch to provide the entertainment. That’s what is going to create the atmosphere in the stadiums.”

‘Principles and values’

England captain Harry Kane is still set to wear a ‘OneLove’ armband against discrimination despite FIFA announcing plans for its own armband in a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

FIFA confirmed its armbands would be worn as part of a partnership with United Nations agencies.

But the Football Association, who are understood to be seeking clarity on whether the armbands can be worn together, are believed to be ready to support the ‘OneLove’ campaign regardless

Such divisive topics can take players out of their comfort zone and Dier said: “We are footballers, not politicians. When the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010, I was 16 at the time.

“Those decisions are made by people way above us. We’re the ones who end up sitting here having to answer these questions. As a team we won’t change our principles and values.”

Despite all the controversy, Dier is still happy to be at the World Cup after he was left of the England squad that finished as European Championship runners-up last year.

“When I missed out on the Euros squad it was one of the worst moments of my career. I was extremely motivated to get back in and be here at the World Cup,” he said.

“We are all human. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that it was a possibility I wouldn’t go. Those thoughts go through your mind. 

“In many ways it was good for me. It propelled me to play the best football of my career.”

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