Two months before the start of the World Cup, the discussion about host Qatar is once again the focus of attention at the DFB.
Gianni Infantino the “chief cynic” of a “mafia bunch”, the organizer of a systematic unjust state – and the German Football Association (DFB) more than ever in duty. Two months before the start of the World Cup in Qatar (November 20th to December 18th), the criticism of the host and the world association FIFA has reached a new level.
At the World Cup Human Rights Congress on the DFB campus in Frankfurt/Main, the extent of the indignation was compressed like never before. Prominent representatives from politics, trade unions, independent organizations and fan groups described the situation on Monday without embellishment – at the same time they increased the pressure on FIFA for its President Infantino and the emirate.
FIFA should finally move, especially when it comes to compensation for the relatives of workers who died or were injured on World Cup construction sites. The International Building and Wood Workers’ Union (BWI) is demanding that the world association set up a fund of 440 million US dollars as a “big beneficiary of the World Cup”.
DFB President Neuendorf: “Fifa must take its own principles seriously”
DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, who, together with Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, would like to address the points of criticism during a trip to Qatar in October, supports the establishment of such a fund. “FIFA must take its own principles seriously and live by them,” said the DFB boss.
However, other congress participants found much clearer words. Dario Minden, in his role as second chairman of the “Our Curve” fan group, criticized FIFA as a “mafia-like bunch” and Infantino as a “chief cynic”.
Managing Director Christian Mihr of “Reporters Without Borders” described Qatar as an “absolute, autocratic monarchy” that would like to “cover up” the critical situation with regard to freedom of the press and freedom of expression through its investments in sports and the media. The country, ranked 119th (out of 186) for press freedom, bans independent journalism and invests in internet surveillance.
BWI Vice-President Dietmar Schäfers, like Luise Amtsberg, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the slow implementation of reforms in Qatar. Norwegian association president Lise Klaveness and general secretary Markus Beeko from Amnesty International Germany criticized FIFA’s lack of responsibility for awarding finals.
Fan representative: “We are ashamed of the venality and exploitation”
But Minden took the clearest position. “As people who love football, we are ashamed of the venality and exploitation that takes place around the tournament,” said the fan representative: “Human rights are suddenly a bargaining chip again – just because the other person has enough money.”
Minden also heavily criticized the DFB. “It is incomprehensible why a boycott was never seriously considered. This sent the devastating signal that we are coming anyway,” said the lawyer.
As a consequence, “Unsere Curve” demands from the DFB that it must now become “part of a progressive alliance” so that the supporters can “look forward to such football festivals again” and minimum standards are met for future tournament awards. In addition, the association had to forego any World Cup winnings in order not to enrich themselves at the finals. All proceeds should be made available to the “disenfranchised”.
Thus placed on the defensive, Qatar’s ambassador to Germany, Abdulla Bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani, had his hands full defending his country. He emphasized that Qatar had initiated reforms and was “on the right track” but still needed “time”.