The 2024 European Football Championship should be a home game for human rights

Human rights are easy to talk about in Sunday speeches and can be discussed well in international contexts. The moral pointing finger can be seen all too often. The implementation in detail is more boring, but ultimately perhaps more important, because it then also affects everyday life in Germany, where people are often all too sure that everything is going well. “We talk to all local suppliers about supply chains and compliance with the relevant requirements,” says Andreas Schär.

As one of the two managing directors of Euro 2024 GmbH, the Swiss is responsible for organizing the 2024 European Football Championship. Companies will then also earn money at the Frankfurt venue, and hundreds of people will get temporary jobs. “We also check whether the money for security guards that a service provider charges us actually reaches the man at the turnstile.” There are also details such as a healthy diet. The devil is in the details, but they have to be right before signals can be sent.

Criticism from Schenk

Schär pleasantly grounded the messages that Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) wanted to send on the occasion of a “working visit” by UEFA regarding the political concerns surrounding the tournament next summer. The human rights concept has yet to be announced; it will only be presented on November 14th.

Critic with expertise: Sylvia Schenk repeatedly intervenes in human rights debates. : Image: picture alliance

The Frankfurt human rights expert Sylvia Schenk, who advises the tournament organizers but also points out shortcomings as a critical voice in the public, especially since the German Football Association’s unfortunate appearance at the World Cup in Qatar, had warned several times that the responsible actors such as UEFA, but The federal government and Euro 2024 GmbH would also get going too late.

Heil strongly contradicted this by claiming that “in fact the exact opposite is the case.” The DFB had already placed human rights at the center of the application phase seven years ago, in which the association competed with Turkey. Heil referred to the supply chain law passed six months ago and was pleased that the tournament organizers had voluntarily committed themselves to these rules. “I don’t think much of bans. Instead, I hope there will be a football festival where we live values ​​that are good for the country,” he said.

However, Heil is aware that there is a lot of ground to be made up in what he called a “home game for human rights” after the away defeat in Qatar. Wisely, he didn’t talk about a home win either. “You learn from harm,” Heil said.

He did not specifically refer to the appearance of the DFB and his cabinet colleague Nancy Faeser (SPD) in the debate about the One Love armband. But the thrust is clear. Heil now hopes that football at the upcoming European Championship, like previous major football events such as the 1954 World Cup and the summer fairy tale of 2006, will have the power to turn the mood in the country. Tournament director Philipp Lahm even used the term “turning point” for this. Lahm’s counterpart Celia Sasic even said that “the European Championship is a tournament not just for football, but a tournament for Europe.”

From a larger perspective, we can now hope that the kick-off for the tournament doesn’t sound too late. Because the European elections take place exactly on the weekend before the tournament starts. These could become an additional burden due to the possible results of EU-critical populists.


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