Watford’s proposed pre-season friendly with the Qatar national team has been cancelled.

A club spokesman said: "The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised."

Eyebrows were raised as soon the game - due to be played in Austria during the Hornets' training camp - was announced at the end of last week.

The nation of Qatar is infamous for its oppressive policies towards homosexuality, women's rights and human rights.

Indeed, FIFA has been criticised ever since it awarded the 2022 World Cup Finals to Qatar, and there is likely to be an increase in protest as the tournament's start in November draws nearer.

Shortly after Watford announced the fixture, a statement was jointly issued by Women Of Watford and Proud Hornets expressing they were "disappointed" at the news and pledging to speak directly to the club.

The Hornets have also seen a large amount of negativity aimed towards the proposed friendly by their own fans on social media, as well as in the national press.

It’s understood the club’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team has been in regular dialogue with both WOW and Proud Hornets over the weekend.

It's not yet known if the Hornets will arrange a different friendly during their Austrian training camp or not.

Meanwhile, fans have questioned why all bar one of the pre-season friendlies are being played behind closed doors.

When I put that to the club, the explanation was that many other sides were either unable or not particularly keen to host a game, hence Watford arranged a number at their own training ground.

Using Vicarage Road was not an option due to a combination of the Sir Elton John concerts and then work on the pitch after staging from those events has been removed.

The Watford Observer will be attending and reporting on all three of the pre-season friendlies at the training ground.

The Hornets are now scheduled to play four games in pre-season. These are:

  • Saturday, July 2: Watford v Cambridge United (1pm at London Colney, behind closed doors).
  • Tuesday, July 12: Watford v Bolton Wanderers (3pm at London Colney, behind closed doors).
  • Saturday, July 16: Watford v Wycombe Wanderers (1pm at London Colney, behind closed doors).
  • Saturday, July 23: Watford v Southampton (3pm at Wealdstone FC, Grosvenor Vale).