England squad land in Qatar for World Cup aboard ‘Rain Bow’ plane

ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports from Qatar, where the English and Welsh teams landed on Tuesday

England’s World Cup squad has arrived at the controversial World Cup in Qatar, on a plane called 'Rain Bow'.

The Three Lions team left their St George’s Park HQ on Tuesday morning and jetted out to Doha from Birmingham Airport on the Virgin Atlantic flight, which featured rainbow livery supporting LGBT+ pride.

Tournament host Qatar is being widely criticised over its oppressive laws and treatment of LGBT+ people.

England skipper Harry Kane is one of several national captains who plan to participate in the ‘OneLove’ campaign during the tournament, which starts on Sunday to oppose discrimination.

Harry Kane leads the squad out of the plane as they arrive in Qatar ahead of their first game next week

A Football Association spokesperson said: “We show our support for inclusion in many ways, including wearing the OneLove Armband during the tournament.”

As ITV News reported on Monday, it is understood the FA did not choose the plane, but is happy to fly on it.

The England squad boards the 'Rain Bow' flight bound for Qatar. Credit: PA

Earlier, the Prince of Wales visited the England squad at St George’s Park ahead of their trip to the World Cup.

William joined a private meeting at the team’s Staffordshire training ground on Monday evening.

During the ceremony William received an England shirt in return signed by all the players, many of whom he has met before during previous visits to their Staffordshire training ground.

The prince also told the players: “What you and (manager) Gareth (Southgate) have built here is something special, that’s clear to see. Play for each other, support each other, enjoy it, and I’m sure you’ll go far.”

England manager Gareth Southgate introduced William, who then presented the players with their shirts. “What we are going to do is ask His Royal Highness to present you with your shirts,” he said.

The players were then called up one by one, and William posed for an individual photo with each of them.

Skipper Kane received his number nine shirt in a bespoke box that told the story of the number and included a picture of each player to have worn it at previous World Cups.

William handed out the shirts from number one for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford right through to number 26 for Conor Gallagher.

After the presentation, he told the team the whole country is behind them.

He said: “We are all rooting for you. Enjoy it.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and anyone found participating in same-sex sexual activity can be punished by up to seven years in prison.

Foreign Office advice notes “any intimacy between persons in public can be considered offensive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intent”.

A Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus, named Rain Bow ahead of departure at Birmingham airport. Credit: PA

An ambassador for the World Cup last week described homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.

Former Qatari footballer Khalid Salman told German public broadcaster ZDF that being gay is “haram”, or forbidden in Arabic, and that he has a problem with children seeing gay people.

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