62 days before the controversial World Cup in Qatar, the German Football Association (DFB) hosted a congress on the situation in the host country. Around 90 participants from the fields of sport, politics, media and business, as well as fan organisations and non-governmental organisations met to discuss the topic “Sport and Human Rights: Measures before, during and after the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar”. They discussed human rights in sport, the current human rights situation in Qatar as well as the role of the DFB as a participant in the tournament.
“I have already made two concrete demands, which I stand by unconditionally: the establishment of a Migration Working Centre by the Qatari government and a fund for the relatives of those who have lost their lives or been injured during the construction of infrastructure or stadiums for the World Cup,” said the DFB president Bernd Neuendorf, “The second demand regarding this fund is also directed at FIFA.”
The main element of the congress was four interactive panels, where invited experts and those attending the event examined the theme “Sport and Human Rights” from the four different perspectives of fans, workers, the media and partners/sponsors. Among others, the following questions were discussed: How do you assess the measures taken so far? What expectations are there during the World Cup for those involved? And what measures are needed to secure a better handling of the theme of human rights in professional sport over the long term?
Heike Ullrich, DFB general secretary: “After our exchanges with other national associations, we have seen that the topic of human rights in Qatar, and its relation to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup, is of varying significance. The weight of this issue also varies amongst the European associations. It is, however, of great importance to the DFB and this is shown not least by our human rights policy, which does not just refer to Qatar.”
The perspective of the players must also not be forgotten and it is not only what happens on the pitch that is decisive. It is just as important to deal with the situation in the host country in a responsible manner. “As sportspeople, we are caught in a conflict. On the one hand, we want to and can stand for our values, but on the other hand, we are judged for our sporting performance in the end,” explained Joshua Kimmich.
The DFB also intensified its dialogue with the relevant stakeholders at the congress. This comes after the men’s team took a critical stance to the situation in Qatar during the international matches back in March and June, with their cooperation with groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others.
Lise Klaveness, president of the Norwegian Football Federation, expressed the view that: “The most important thing is that we understand that this topic isn’t going anywhere.” Celia Sasic, DFB vice president of equality and diversity, added to this, by stating: “In two years, we have the European Championships in Germany, in which we can all demonstrate what we are demanding at the moment."