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Two months before the opening match of the World Cup at Doha’s Al-Thumama Stadium, the phone rang at the Hilton Hotel in Munich Airport. It was Sunday lunchtime, there was a ‘double pass’ and there was an announcement on the other end of the line Uli Hoeneß, again in attack mode. Of course he was overcome. Live round, his face is too big on the screen. A Bond villain against the United Nations.
The reason for the former Bayern president’s call was to the right of Mario Basler and didn’t seem particularly surprised. Andreas Rettig, the former CEO of the DFL, was clearly entrenched before that. Before the World Cup award to Qatar. And also against Bavarian relations in the Persian Gulf.
Now Hoeneß described him as being hailed as the king of hypocrites. Then he gave his opinion on the phone. The World Cup, Hoeneß said, FC Bayern’s commitment and other sporting activities in the Gulf region will lead to better working conditions for people living there. His main argument is to exchange through trade.
But Rettig also had the right vocabulary and was well prepared. Stay factual and calm. Talked about sports washing, propaganda from Doha, which has long been a battlefield term, and named Hoeneß as Qatar’s ambassador. Topspin is playing return, swinging in the best sense. And, of course, the emperor was quoted as saying that ten years ago he had never seen slaves in Qatar. And, of course, Hoeneß recommended that Rettig himself go there. To search more closely.
So they sat opposite each other, one droning by Lake Tegernsee, the other leaning slightly forward in the exhibition chair. So they stood as representatives. Two men irreconcilably disagree. Two men probably also as a symbol. For a debate that was once again much louder in the weeks leading up to the start of the World Cup in the desert. In living rooms and pubs, on the curve and in newsrooms.
Because Qatar had a hot temper. Because this World Cup represents everything that has made football unbearable for years. Commerce and corruption, sell-out and exclusion. The system is sick. And Qatar is so far the most visible symptom of this disease. The whole tournament was a perversion, the stadiums were artificially cooled, the atmosphere was artificially induced. The last tour organized through the present and reality, the zeitgeist itself.
There is clearly a lot wrong with Qatar in terms of human rights and sustainability, the country’s coach Hansi Flick told Süddeutsche Zeitung. Because the list of moral failings is long. First of all there are the headlines, those crazy numbers. The dead on the construction sites, probably 6,500. Maybe even more, plus photos from the guest workers’ quarters, secret records of the horrible conditions.
And when Uli Hoeneß likes to recommend the most daring critics to see it on the spot, he ignores the fact that there are people who cannot fly to Qatar at all. Or they want to, because their sexuality is punished there. For gays and lesbians, the Gulf state is a real desert, and it can be fatal for them. And while the emir announced in late summer that Qatar would welcome football fans of all walks of life with open arms, there were still hotels in the country refusing bookings from same-sex couples. Intolerance inventory.
If I travel to a country where it is not completely clear whether I can be imprisoned or even sentenced to death, it is simply wrong, – explained former international Thomas Hitzlsperger in an interview in mid-September. Answer as an alarm. After all, it made sense that the same questions were asked over and over again. They stood in the room, the ethical elephants. What the hell are we going to do now. With this tournament. Can you still be a fan when joy falls on the scorched earth? How do we behave during Advent? And above all: what do we expect from those who will be there as ambassadors with the ball? With shorts on the field, with a suit in the stands. Eagle on your chest, the audience behind you.
THE MOST FAMOUS, this is usually the case, for a long time there were all those who always had with them what seemed to be the simplest solution. Inserts from…