Defeat for the DFB before kick-off (

Sought-after guests in Doha: Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (right) and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf

Photo: dpa/Federico Gambarini

A gentle breeze blew through the high-rise canyons of Doha. The colorful flags of the World Cup participants fluttered in the wind when Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and the President of the German Football Association (DFB), Bernd Neuendorf, visited the mobile fan embassy in front of The Gate Mall shopping center on Wednesday. Hundreds of media representatives crowded the small tent in the heart of the Qatari capital to listen to the conversations with German fans.

Neuendorf was able to hear the hurricane of indignation facing his association face to face. The lost power struggle with Fifa over wearing the “One Love” bandage shakes the DFB to its foundations – and presents the former politician from Düren with the most difficult task of his young term in office. The 61-year-old experienced first-hand how the values ​​proclaimed by his institution are trampled on at this World Cup.

Bengt Kunkel, a self-confident sports journalism student from Münster with black and red gold make-up on his face, recounted what happened to him when he attended the World Cup match between the Netherlands and Senegal on Monday. The 23-year-old reported that at first, after discussions, he still got into the stadium with a sweatband and a bandage in rainbow colors. But “in the middle of the second half I was escorted from my seat by four police officers, stood in a group of 15 police officers who asked me to hand over my bandage – otherwise they would have to take me with them”.

He “expected everything completely like this: be it that Germany would back down from the ›One Love‹ bandage as soon as there was a bit of opposition from Fifa; be it that such things are taken directly from me.« The bandage was thrown in the garbage. “I was told after the game I could search every bin, but I didn’t.”

This clearly illustrates how beliefs end up on the rubbish heap. “It’s definitely not a sign of welcome for us when you’re led out of the stadium because of such signs,” said DFB boss Neuendorf in a low voice. That didn’t sound clear enough: Olaf Sommerfeld, notary, fan and official from Lower Bavaria, spoke up from the background. If the DFB doesn’t change, the 46-year-old shouted in the direction of Neuendorf, “then I’ll run against you!” His opinion on the World Cup, Fifa and DFB: “It just pisses me off!”

Faeser said shortly afterwards that she was concerned because of the fans. “That disappoints me a lot,” said the SPD politician responsible for sport, who castigated the ban on FIFA as a “big mistake”. Even if she would have wished that the associations would not give in, the world association was in the pillory, which put the DFB and others under pressure. For them it is “completely incomprehensible” that Fifa does not want tolerance and discrimination to be openly advocated. “That no longer fits our time.”

Nancy Faeser meekly had to admit to supporters that the security guarantees given by Qatari colleague Khalid bin Khalifa Al-Thani just earlier this month are obviously not worth much. ‘I can’t give you any guarantees. I’m not in charge of security here.”

Neuendorf reported on Wednesday from a switching conference with the European national associations affected by the ban. “Fifa works with intimidation and pressure,” said the DFB boss. “We are in opposition to Fifa. We want to see how we can initiate further measures.« They will talk to the other seven associations again the next day. The largest individual sports association in the world must lead the way: Because of its many critical contributions, the DFB is expected to be the spearhead of the resistance.

The DFB had previously received a written reply from Fifa to the request as to what could have happened when the ominous bandage was applied. A warning from the referee would only have been a sanction. “Fifa also reserves the right to appeal to the disciplinary commission, which could then impose further penalties if necessary.” A lawsuit is now being examined before the International Court of Arbitration for Sports – but whether this will actually be set up is an open question.

In the public eye, the DFB has knocked over everything that it had built up in credibility after the election of Neuendorf as president in March. Politics puts pressure on the mood, as could be seen in the training stadium of the Al Shamal Sports Club when DFB director Oliver Bierhoff tried to explain the buckling. Now an announced confrontational course on Fifa is supposed to repair the image damage. But at what price?

Germany will no longer need to submit an application for the 2027 Women’s World Cup with the Netherlands and Belgium to the world association if a legal clinch is instigated. But it’s also about more – about values, about reputation and ultimately also about a lot of money. If sponsors like the food company Rewe publicly stop supporting Germany’s dearest child before the first World Cup game, the greatest danger is at hand.

The association currently seems to be unable to do anything right, although the numerous contradictions in German politics in dealing with the desert emirate shine through if Qatar is good enough for future energy supplies and stately investments by German companies. But Faeser was not even asked about this. Instead, the 52-year-old, symbolically dressed in a pink suit, emphasized that she had exchanged views with the Qatari organizers on the situation of women’s football and women’s rights. In any case, she wants to continue to hold critical talks with a country in which German football suffered a defeat of enormous proportions even before the first World Cup game kicked off.

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