DFB Congress on human rights: Qatar ambassador advertises and rages before the World Cup

The closer the pre-Christmas football World Cup in Qatar approaches, the more the hosting emirate is in the public spotlight again.

DFB Congress on human rights: Qatar ambassador advertises and rages before the World Cup

The closer the pre-Christmas football World Cup in Qatar approaches, the more the hosting emirate is in the public spotlight again. At a DFB congress, Ambassador al Thani asks for understanding - and shouts at the Germans to see the positive.

Qatar's ambassador to Germany called for fair treatment of his country as the World Cup host and drew a comparison with Russia as the 2018 tournament organizer. "If we go back four years, the World Cup was in a country, Crimea was just taken, people in prison, oppressed people, and there was no attention from Germany and not from any other country in Europe," said Abdulla Mohammed al Thani a congress of the German Football Association on the human rights situation in the Gulf Emirate in Frankfurt. His country has been the focus for twelve years and has initiated many changes.

The situation in Qatar is "not perfect yet," the ambassador admitted, and change will take time. "It's not at 100 percent, it's a journey," he said. In Germany, for example, the issue of equal rights for men and women would have taken many years. Al Thani wanted Germans who were in Qatar - like the record champions Bayern Munich after their traditional winter camps - to report on their positive experiences: "Say it publicly or keep your mouth shut," the diplomat formulated in an unusually clear choice of words.

All in all, around two months before the start of the World Cup (20 November to 18 December), both the host and the world governing body FIFA came under heavy criticism again. The role of the DFB was also critically questioned. Specifically, the International Building and Wood Workers' Union (BWI) has asked FIFA to set up a $440 million compensation fund for the families of workers who died or were injured on World Cup construction sites. DFB President Bernd Neuendorf supported the establishment of such a fund. FIFA is also responsible for this, he said.

Neuendorf also announced at the congress that shortly before the World Cup kicked off, he would again urge the improvement of the human rights situation in the host country on a joint trip with Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. Progress can be seen, but two points need concrete implementation, stressed Neuendorf, as well as representatives of human rights organizations and trade unions. For example, "working centers" would have to be set up to which workers could turn in the event of violations by employers. Neuendorf also called for the establishment of a fund for workers who died or were injured in the construction of World Cup stadiums.

The fan alliance "Unsere KURK" demanded that the DFB "become part of a purely progressive alliance" so that the supporters "could look forward to such football festivals again in the future". In addition, the association had to forego any World Cup winnings in order not to enrich itself at the major event. All profits should be made available to the "disenfranchised".

DFB director Oliver Bierhoff sees the national team facing a major challenge given the human rights situation in Qatar. "We have to be careful to find this balancing act between responsibility and the awareness that we have as people. On the other hand, as the German national football team, we go over there, we represent our country, we want to play football successfully," said Bierhoff.

The "many noises and criticisms that come beforehand" should "not mean that we don't feel like going to the tournament. But that we're looking forward to a world championship, to measuring with the best in the world and looking forward to that we can represent Germany and hopefully get the next star," said Bierhoff as a sporting requirement for the selection of national coach Hansi Flick for the tournament in the run-up to Christmas.

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