Srolled Qatar have promised an image boost from hosting the soccer World Cup, the disappointment should already be great. Critical tones dominate the accompanying music for the World Cup production. The reasons for this are the unscrupulous exploitation of guest workers on World Cup construction sites, the authoritarian leadership, an anti-LGBT society and legislation.
In addition, there is the corruption in the allocation by the officials of the world association FIFA, Qatar’s billion-dollar influence on European club football, but also questions about the supposed lack of football culture and the resentment that at a World Cup so late in the year the grill in the garden stays cold and there are no summer fairytale public viewing events. It was not always clear in the often heated debate that the latter problems might be easier to bear.
Russia, which had hosted the World Cup four years earlier, got off lightly compared to Qatar. had Wladimir Putin had long since occupied Crimea, the Russian air force bombed hospitals in Syria that were financed by the federal government. Is Qatar, which is now supposed to help free Germany from dependence on Russian gas, a different, far worse case?
The whole debate a “semi-knowledge congress”
The leadership in doha was last indignant. In an interview with the FAZ, Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani complained about “double standards”, “racist clichés” and “arrogance” in the criticism of his country. But the minister has to put up with criticism, especially that of the human rights situation. However, the assertion that there is neither football history nor football culture in Qatar is more an expression of arrogance than an accurate picture of reality.
The Qatar debate is poorly differentiated and sometimes shrill. Experts, who perceive the whole debate as a “half-knowledge congress”, and also many Western – quite critical – expats in the emirate just shake their heads. So it goes down that the emirate, under pressure from the international public, has introduced reforms that strengthen the protection of foreign low-wage workers. The country’s leadership depends on the goodwill of its partners and has invested billions all over the world, not least in Germany. You still have a lot to clean up, but blanket criticism is the wrong way to bring about further change in the Gulf monarchy.
Qatar meets FIFA requirements
A good two weeks before the start of the tournament, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser traveled from the SPD to Doha, accompanied by the President of the German Football Association, Bernd Neuendorf. Before the visit, Faeser let it be known that she found the award to “a country like Qatar” to be “totally difficult”. She demanded “safety guarantees” for homosexual visitors to the football spectacle, among other things. It was not only the Qatari foreign minister who stated that these were not necessary.
In fact, FIFA itself requires that a host country must guarantee the safety of all tournament visitors. Qatar meets this minimum requirement by more or less overriding its own laws for the duration of the tournament. The game is well known: Putin has already done it twice, at the 2014 Olympic Games and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.