The soccer World Cup in Qatar has started. Rarely has a World Cup been so overshadowed by allegations. The moral index finger in the direction of the Gulf State is undifferentiated and overshoots the actual target.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch complain about the lack of rights for women and homosexuals and the still inadequate working conditions in Qatar. It is important that reference is made to this. Only through constructive criticism and making grievances visible can things change. Also hotly debated: the scandal surrounding the "One Love" armband and the sometimes confused defense speech by FIFA boss Infantino. We are rightly debating this in private and in public space.
But the debate has taken on a life of its own on social media and unfortunately also in the media in some places and seems increasingly undifferentiated: "bored camels", "blood sheikhs", "lie show", "nothing but hypocrisy" - the Qatar Bashing knows no bounds. How can I actually tell that a camel is bored? Why are sheikhs now being suspected of having blood on their hands? And: Germany could also be accused of "hypocrisy" - despite the criticism, we would like to get liquid gas from Qatar, wouldn't we?
The dynamic of this debate is reminiscent of the hardened fronts during the pandemic: vaccination or not? With similar pressure, the question is now in the room: watch games or not? For many, this is about the "right" attitude. But what is the right attitude?
If we attach the "right" attitude to the original goal of the horrendous criticism of Qatar, namely wanting to improve the situation of women, homosexuals and guest workers in Qatar, then it's clear that bashing Qatar won't help the local people. On the contrary.
We need more diversity in considering and evaluating the current grievances in Qatar. And a diverse perspective also includes a correct presentation of the facts. This also includes dealing with the number of deaths in the context of the built stadiums. And this is where opinions differ.
The Germany director of Human Rights Watch, Wenzel Michalski, suspects thousands of deaths, but also links this to the indication that any figures circulated are speculative. The figure of over 15,000 deaths became very prominent as it was read in a report by Amnesty International. But Amnesty International itself clarifies that this figure does not exclusively refer to the deceased workers of the World Cup: the number refers to all foreign nationals who died in Qatar between 2010 and 2019.
Reliable facts can hardly be created without more detailed investigations into the deaths. There is no question that the working conditions for guest workers must continue to improve. However, this does not only apply to Qatar and not only to Arab countries. In Europe, too, there is a great need for improvement. Here, too, guest workers die every year due to poor working conditions.
A diverse consideration also includes pointing the index finger at Germany. We criticize the current host of the World Cup in the strongest possible terms, but gratefully accept the billions that Qatar is investing in Germany: the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, with a volume of around 25 billion euros, is the largest foreign investor in Germany. Jeremias Kettner, political advisor and founder of the management consultancy "The Bridge", confirms Qatar's influence on the German economy: "Qatar holds 17 percent of the shares in Volkswagen and around 10 percent of the shares in Deutsche Bank." These are just two of many examples.
In plain language, this means that the Qatari government is pumping billions into the German economy. And Germany as an economic nation is benefiting massively from this. It is questionable that some now think that they are showing an "attitude" by boycotting games and promoting Arabophobia through their derogatory statements. Especially if they also drive a VW, have an account with Deutsche Bank or watch FC Bayern football games (Qatar Airways has been a sponsor of FCB since 2018).
The best we can do now? Talking to each other - gladly controversial, like in the podcast with Hogrefe and Kettner. In the media, journalists should continue to report on abuses in an objective and critical manner. Criticism yes, bashing no.