Manuel Neuer does straightening and straightening. Perhaps this is a coincidence, because the goalkeeper and captain of the German national football team are only looking for a comfortable sitting position. But that fits with what was just said on the podium. It fits with a proposal that the captain of the national team wear the rainbow armband at the World Cup later this year.
“These are symbolic signs, but they make a big difference,” says Pia Mann of Discover Football, which campaigns for equality and against discrimination.
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When the German national football team meets Italy, England and Hungary in the next few days, it will be a matter of first-class points in the Nations League. In fact, it is about much more than that. for the World Cup in Qatar. This can also be felt in the courses in Herzogenaurach. Let the long season rest comfortably? Scheduled!
There are still 174 days until the World Cup kicks off in the Persian Gulf emirate. “This World Cup is a special tournament,” says Stephen Simon, former sporting director of ARD and new media director for the German Football Association (DFB). Which is why the national players sit in line on Wednesday afternoon after their practice and listen to a handful of pundits talk about the World Cup hosts on the podium. “November is coming sooner than we think,” Simon says.
“Football is a responsibility,” says Bierhoff.
Discussions about the state of human rights in Qatar also affect national players – even if they just want to play football. “It is important that we educate ourselves, that we deal with it, that we take a stand and that football has a responsibility,” says national team manager Oliver Bierhoff. “There is a twist there, but it’s not enough in many things.”
Early in March, representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch visited the national team to give the players an overview of the situation in Qatar. Thomas Muller, who visited Qatar several times with his club Bayern Munich, said that he still does not feel that he should know the country in all its aspects. This is also the case on Wednesday in a panel discussion with participants from different regions.
There are various excerpts that ideally lead to a comprehensive picture. On the other hand, there is sports marketing expert Roland Bischoff, who has visited Qatar 75 times in the past 17 years and who said that not all is well there and yet “much better than portrayed”. There are honest reforms, especially compared to neighboring countries, and “if we hit it all, conservative forces will prevail again.”
Even human rights organizations do not deny initiating reforms in Qatar, but many rights still exist on paper at best. And so the idea that the World Cup will radically change and modernize the emirate is one thing above all: unworldly.
FIFA man says: ‘Qatar is the safest country in the world’
Martin Andemann, a spokesman for “Proponents of Football Europe”, describes this as an “absolute miscalculation”, especially after the experiences with the World Cup in Russia four years ago: “We all helped in the normalization of Russia. We all help in the normalization of Qatar.”
FIFA, the world football’s governing body, sees things differently of course. “The development that the country has taken gives us a positive feeling at FIFA,” says Helmut Spahn, head of security. Qatar is the safest country in the world.
For Christian Rudolf, on the other hand, the German Football Association’s head of contact for gender and sexual diversity, there is no sense of safety in Qatar. Not after the emir recently answered a question if gay guests would have to stay home during the World Cup during his official visit to Germany: “Everyone is welcome. But we also expect everyone to respect our culture.” Qatari culture also means that homosexuality is forbidden and can punish her severely.
The true culture of welcome looks different for Christian Rudolph. And about the prince’s statement, he says: “I see this as a threat.”