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“Bloody Games, Corrupt Associations”: Discussion about the World Cup in Qatar – Sport

In the recent past, Andreas Rettig has repeatedly warned professional football to take the issue of “sustainability” more seriously than before. So lawn heating consumes 2000 liters of oil a day, reason enough to adjust the schedule to the calendar year. At the football World Cup in Qatar, however, the stadiums will probably be cooled down to bearable temperatures with presumably even more energy consumption, which is why ecological reasons also speak against awarding the tournament to the desert state. But they weren’t the focus when Rettig sat at the Augsburg university over the weekend to speak about Qatar under the motto “Bloody games, corrupt associations”. The Green Member of Parliament Max Deisenhofer, Jürgen Mittag from the Sports University in Cologne and the journalists Andreas Schmid and Benjamin Best (WDR) discussed with him.

Rettig, who met a well-disposed audience as the long-time managing director of FC Augsburg (2006 to 2012), did not spare criticism of the associations and FC Bayern Munich. It is significant for Rettig that the record champions justify their lively business relationships with the emirate by saying that they behave no differently than corporations like VW. While a Dax group is committed to its shareholders, the raison d’être of a football club is different: “It does not primarily aim to increase its return”, but has to justify its business relationships to the “stakeholders”. “And if his fans and members don’t want that, he has to react accordingly.”

The event was organized by representatives of the Augsburg ultra scene, which had already demonstrated against Qatar a year ago together with organizations such as Amnesty International in the city of Augsburg. One of their spokesmen castigated the tournament as part of the “completely absurd excesses of professional football”, saying it was “symbolic of the ever-increasing commercialization”.

The Green politician differentiates between his “private anti-stance” and “geopolitical requirements”

For assessments of the situation in Qatar, Katja Müller-Fahlbusch from Amnesty International, who had recently spoken in the Bundestag at a hearing on the subject before the sports committee, was also called in during the evening. There she had attested to Qatar’s progress in terms of rights for migrant workers, but criticized the implementation of the reforms as “inadequate”. According to Müller-Fahlbusch, there have been “real improvements” in working conditions as a result of international pressure – but only on the official World Cup construction sites, which only employ two percent of all migrant and temporary workers. While the Fifa and Qatar lobbyists never tire of emphasizing that the situation of migrant workers has recently improved significantly, World Cup critics vehemently deny this. And they are apparently right for 98 percent of the workers, most of whom come from Nepal.

The assessment of the British Guardianthat far more than the estimated 6500 migrant workers lost their lives was shared here. It is interesting what Best, who was escorted by two government jeeps during his research for “Sport inside” in 2019, dropped in a subordinate clause: He has information that all migrant workers are to be taken out of the country during the tournament so that journalists who are critical want to report on the situation outside the stadiums, don’t even get any material for it.

Best reported that there were always deaths that didn’t show up in the statistics; According to Amnesty, 70 percent of all migrant worker deaths go uninvestigated. And the list of criticisms doesn’t stop there: two lawyers have just been sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing a decree by the Emir. Homosexuality can be punished with up to seven years in prison. And women are subject to a “guardianship system” and thus their husbands. Amnesty sees “no progress” in these areas.

There was no real dissent among the discussants, nor was it to be expected given the composition of the podium. It was striking how finely the Green member of parliament Deisenhofer distinguished between his “private anti-attitude” to Qatar and the “geopolitical requirements” to which his party friends in Berlin are now subject when they import liquid gas from Qatar.

When he added that some politicians are reluctant to be able to be in the stadium for a World Cup final with German participation, Rettig intervened. As a politician, you shouldn’t underestimate “the power of images”. And “jubilant politicians, who may even throw themselves at the emir” correspond one to one to the emirate’s calculations.

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