In the classic against Italy, fans hold a banner critical of Qatar in front of the TV cameras - and are promptly checked by the police because they recognize a special action. The DFB also instructs the police, and the association would do well to be more sensitive in dealing with criticism.
A lack of human rights, modern slavery, thousands of dead workers: the World Cup in Qatar (November 21 to December 18) has been criticized by human rights organizations since it was awarded in 2010. They keep emphasizing that despite Qatar's new laws and reassurances, not much has changed in reality. Amnesty International recently said that "exploitative practices" and the "worst elements" of the kafala system persist.
Spectators in Mönchengladbach also drew attention to these abuses during the Nations League game against Italy on Tuesday evening. Shortly after the kick-off of the football classic, they showed a banner with the inscription "15,000 dead for big scenes - FIFA and Co. without conscience!". It was initially suspected that the group had illegally gained access to the stadium. According to ntv.de information, the 15 people come from the Gladbach fan scene and had organized the expensive tickets for the corresponding middle block in the run-up to the game in order to be on TV with the poster in the first minutes of the game.
"A clear, true message. And it's good that it has its place here," said ZDF commentator Oliver Schmidt and read the message again. The positive mention on TV was extremely pleasing for the Gladbach fans, as ntv.de was informed.
The German Football Association and the police did not seem happy at all. The 15 people are said to have hastily left the block and the stadium immediately after their action. The group "moved further in the stadium environment", as the DFB announced in a statement at noon. "Because of this atypical behavior and out of concern for the safety of the event," the DFB activated the police so that the fans would be checked. The association also states that it quickly became clear that the action posed "no danger".
When asked, a spokesman for the Mönchengladbach police told ntv.de that it was not just the DFB who had the controls in mind. The police spokesman explained that the checks were not only made on the instructions of the DFB, but because of "activist-typical behavior" and because further actions by the group may have been planned. However, the 15 people would not be entered in the violent sport file and there should not be any other additional measures.
After further consultation, the DFB also refrained from taking legal action. On the contrary: "It is important for us to emphasize that freedom of expression is a valuable asset," said the association in its statement. "Restricting this was and is not in the interest of the DFB." In particular, the "question about hosting and awarding the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the conditions for local workers, the restricted freedom of the press and freedom of expression and the situation for the LGBTIQ community" require a critical discourse.
The fans in Gladbach made sure of that with their banner. Until the start of the World Cup in Qatar in five months, further such actions should be seen in the German stadiums. The DFB would do well to welcome them, not to criminalize them and to act prudently and not directly with police controls - after all, clear statements from the association itself have been far too long in coming.