Increasing critical voices in Europe on Qatar World Cup

Image: Eurosport

Especially in France and Germany, officials question the decision of granting Qatar this year’s Football World Cup tournament, while also sponsoring companies raise their voice.

No public viewing in French cities

In France, several major cities have decided against public viewing during the World Cup in Qatar. They are reacting to the poor human rights situation in the Arab country.

Lille City Council unanimously adopted a statement condemning the hosting of the World Cup in Qatar from November 20 to December 18 as nonsensical in terms of human rights, environment and sport, mayor Martine Aubry said. “We will not broadcast a single game on big screens.”

The eastern French cities of Strasbourg and Reims have already decided in the same way, „France Info“ reported. “It is impossible for us to ignore the numerous warnings from NGOs that denounce the abuse and exploitation of guest workers,” said Strasbourg Mayor Jeanne Barseghian, explaining the decision against public viewing events. The mayor of Reims, Arnould Robinet, referred to the “controversial” nature of the World Cup, but also to the energy costs of a big screen “at a time when public authorities are asking both our fellow citizens and our administrations to reduce their energy consumption “.

The coach of the German team voices his concerns

Two months before the start of the controversial World Cup in Qatar (November 20 to December 18), national coach Hansi Flick condemned the awarding of the tournament to the Qatari Emirate with unprecedented sharpness. The question of the correctness of the World Cup award for Qatar “should have been answered much earlier – with a no!” said Flick.

The 57-year-old left no doubt about his support for criticism of the conditions in the country for hosting this year’s World Cup and the decision of the world governing body FIFA: “There is a lot that is wrong in Qatar when it comes to human rights and sustainability , it’s obvious.”

In the years of debate within the biggest national football association, the German DFB, no member has positioned himself as clearly as Flick has towards the hosts. Team Manager Oliver Bierhoff packed in the question “How could FIFA award the World Cup to this country?” his skepticism, and the head of DFB, Bernd Neuendorf, described the award procedure as “questionable” before his trip to Qatar with Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser later this month.

Compensation fund demanded by sponsors and European football associations

Four out of 14 sponsors of FIFA and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar support the establishment of a compensation fund, human rights organizations Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Fair Square and supporters association Football Supporters Europe (FSE) said at a press conference last week. The brewery group AB InBev, Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have also pledged their support.

The President of German DFB, Bernd Neuendorf, also called for the establishment of such a fund. FIFA must take its obligations seriously, Neuendorf said at the opening of the DFB’s human rights congress in Frankfurt, referring to FIFA’s obligation to compensate, which is set out in the human rights strategy that the world association adopted in 2017. The human rights organizations are calling for such a fund to be provided with at least the same amount of prize money that will be distributed to the participating associations in Qatar – 440 million dollars, around 439 million euros. The money should benefit workers who have been deprived of their wages, who suffer from the physical consequences of their work or, if they have died as a result of their work, be paid to their survivors.

In addition to the DFB, the Dutch football association KNVB has now called for the establishment of a compensation fund. Bonds coach Louis van Gaal said on Monday at the Dutch team’s training camp in Zeist that he supported the demand “of course. I think that has to happen, especially considering that FIFA is making billions, millions anyway, from the tournament. Anyone clever enough to organize a World Cup there must be responsible for all the consequences that come with it.” FIFA had previously refused to set up such a fund, citing existing compensation mechanisms in Qatar. The emirate also refers to these compensation options. According to data from the Qatari Labor Ministry, also cited by Human Rights Watch, the Workers’ Support Fund, established in 2020, paid out $164 million in compensation as of July 2022. However, human rights organizations complain that restitution payments benefit workers who worked in Qatar after 2017, when reforms in Qatar’s labor law were initiated. The World Cup was awarded to the emirate in December 2010.

Referring to further human rights abuses in the host country of the World Cup, Ronan Evain, executive director of the supporters’ association FSE, said that not a single LGBTQI fan group from Europe will travel to Qatar. Evain said he could not give a positive assessment of the safety of “vulnerable groups” and advise them to travel to Qatar: “The statement that everyone is welcome is not good enough.” Too many “blind spots”. would continue to exist. The Qatari security authorities have not made a “serious commitment to the security” of these groups. “There was nothing. It’s all just PR.”

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