Sports & Politics

More and more criticism of Qatar

Criticism of the hosting of the World Cup in the Emirate of Qatar has existed since the beginning. After various male players have spoken out, the german fan initiative "Our Curve" has now also taken a clear stand. Style PASS spoke to its chairperson Helen Breit.

Style PASS: "Our Curve" is against the World Cup in Qatar. The reasons against Qatar have been discussed in the media for some time. Your prognosis: What will happen next?

Helen Breit: That is difficult to say. The ball is now in the DFB's court. In my opinion, it can no longer escape the pressure and must finally take a comprehensive position. On the one hand, on the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar and the associated indications of corruption. On the other hand, on participation in this World Cup. With regard to participation, it is imperative that the DFB draw up a catalogue of criteria on conditions that must be fulfilled in Qatar by the summer of next year. For example, the guarantee of freedom of the press in the country, the installation of independent observers, equal access for all people to the World Cup and the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression in the World Cup stadiums and in connection with the World Cup. We expect the DFB to respond to the demands that have been made.

Style PASS: Some human rights organisations believe that the major sporting event could bring improvements for people by drawing media attention to abuses. How do you see this?

I would like to distinguish between the practice of awarding major sporting events and dealing with created facts. No one has awarded a World Cup to Qatar or Russia in order to finally have an occasion to contribute to improving the human rights situation. There are quite different calculations behind this, above all economic reasons. Let's leave aside the allegations of corruption surrounding World Cups, which incidentally also affected Germany in the 2006 World Cup. Eleven years after the awarding of the World Cup, we find ourselves in a situation where, in our opinion, we have to make the best out of the bad situation for the local people. And of course, this can only succeed with pressure. This pressure comes from the grassroots and from NGOs, but it is imperative that the DFB passes it on to FIFA and directly to those responsible in Qatar. Only with consistent expectations that are linked to conditions can improvements in the situation on the ground be achieved.

Style PASS: DFB and Fifa - how do you assess the behaviour of the soccer associations with regard to Qatar?

It is inconceivable that the various allegations of corruption, also in relation to other World Cups, are not being dealt with completely and transparently. I have no understanding whatsoever for statutes of limitations in the case of such accusations. There has also been no clear positioning or demarcation of boundaries with regard to the upcoming tournament. It was not the fans who awarded the World Cup to Qatar and the officials now have to take the blame. Those responsible have catapulted themselves into this situation and must take responsibility for this decision before, during and after the World Cup instead of talking their way out of it.

Style PASS: "Our Curve" has made demands, what are they and how realistic do you think it is that they will be implemented?

In addition to the already mentioned immediate and comprehensive positioning on all issues surrounding the World Cup in Qatar and the creation of a catalogue of criteria, we are calling on the DFB to make a voluntary commitment: The potential profits from a possible participation in the World Cup in Qatar must be frozen until 2027 and may only be used if reports by independent NGOs can show that there have been demonstrable sustainable improvements in the human rights situation by 2027. Because this obliges the DFB to take responsibility beyond the tournament. Furthermore, we call on the players to critically examine the situation on the ground and to use their reach to demand respect for human rights. But we also look at the situation in Germany and demand the immediate termination of any business relations with companies, institutions and states that systematically violate human rights and engage in so-called sportswashing. We believe that all our demands can be implemented. Whether they are implemented depends on the will of those responsible and how much pressure is put on them to finally act.

Style PASS: The power of the fans? Would fans/citizens have to take a stand against Qatar?

It is not a question of declaring oneself for or against a state. It's about critically questioning decision-making processes, holding the football associations accountable and unequivocally standing up for respect for human rights - no matter which country and which tournament we're talking about. Of course, this also includes the self-critical question of consumption. Every person must decide for themselves what they can reconcile with their conscience and act accordingly.


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