Football – Not the Only Truth: The German Federation and Qatar Debate – Sports

Herzogenaurach (dpa) – The first three rows of tough debate over heavily criticized World Cup host Qatar have been reserved for the national football team.

The Bayern Munich quartet Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry were on top as the German Football Association (DFB) tried to approach the complex topic in the first round of the crowd. “There is no such thing as a single truth,” DFB manager Oliver Bierhoff summed up at the end of the event. Most importantly, “to deal with it, to take a stand.”

How should the world’s largest individual sports federation deal with the tournament organizer that public perception should not be due to the human rights situation and the situation of foreign workers? Former American player Thomas Hitzlsberger, now active as an ambassador for the German Diversity Federation, who was contacted by video link from the United States, spoke of a “dilemma”. Especially for players who are being asked to do more than just businesses that are more connected to Qatar.

“Each player has to decide for himself how much pressure to allow,” said the 40-year-old Hitzelsberger. “I would appeal to the players to only talk about the things they know about.” The professionals, who listened carefully after training in the morning in preparation for the Nations League match against Italy on Saturday (8:45pm / RTL), were not planned.

Focus on the LGBTQ community*

The German Football Association had invited representatives from several interest groups to attend a panel discussion, including FIFA and the European Football Supporters’ Association. There was already an exchange with human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch about the sometimes tragic situation of foreign workers during international matches at the end of March. The focus at Herzogenaurach was now on the status of the LGBTQ* community. The acronym in English refers to people with different sexual identities and orientations.

Christian Rudolf, head of the contact point for the German Federation for Gender and Sexual Diversity, recalled the recent statements of the Emir of Qatar, who said “everyone is welcome”. At the same time, homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by law in the country. “I take it as a threat,” said Rudolph. When it’s things like “Interlocking hands, as you do on vacation, when it’s a punishable offense – it doesn’t give you a sense of security, surely not.”

Officially, FIFA and the World Cup Organizing Committee are publishing the culture of welcoming the tournament from November 21 to December 18 which will be different. The emirate’s statements and media reports raise serious doubts about this issue. Pia Mann of Discover Football, who was critical of the FIFA, said she would not feel safe traveling to Qatar with her partner: “FIFA imposed human rights laws on itself a few years ago, but they didn’t follow it.”

Hitzlsberger doesn’t believe in change through the World Cup

Football can no longer be seen in isolation in the Qatar debate. Amid the turmoil of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck traveled to Doha weeks ago to negotiate energy contracts. Boycotts due to the human rights situation are not an issue at the political level with new dependency relationships. The ProFans fan alliance recently asked the German Football Association to conduct a poll of members about participation in the World Cup.

Hitzlsberger described the association’s situation as “difficult”. “I don’t think the DFB and other federations could change the country in the few weeks he was there.” After numerous visits to Qatar, the founder of EV football ambassador Roland Bischoff called for the emirate to be compared to neighboring countries: “Every influencer flies to Dubai, and the development is not far away.”

In his closing remarks, Bierhoff also spoke of a “development” in the country that was “leading the way in the whole region”. “But it’s not enough in a lot of things, there are problems in a lot of places.” There are “different classes of people, some of whom live in extreme isolation.” The president of the German Football Association, Bernd Neuendorf, recently announced his desire to coordinate actions on the way to Qatar with other European federations.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220531-99-499830 / 4

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