Painting the warm-up shirts with “Human Rights” at the start of qualification for the rightly harshly criticized World Cup tournament in Qatar in 2022 was a good move by the German national team. But the players and the association have to be measured against this. It also means that faces of the team like Joshua Kimmich no longer appear in commercials for a Qatari airline. Also because of such history, the sign stuck to a certain double standard on Thursday evening. A comment.
The matter of “setting an example” in football has its pitfalls. Some say politics has no place in the stadium. Football has to use its wide reach to point out grievances or socially relevant issues, say the others. And rightly so.
But not always with the “sign” succeeds as well as, for example, on February 20, when the team from Eintracht Frankfurt wore T-shirts with the likenesses of the victims of the racist attack in Hanau while they were warming up and Amin Younes contributed one of these shirts held up a goal celebration. Why was the campaign so well received? Quite simply: It was credible and stringent from start to finish; Eintracht always expresses itself on social issues.
The German national team’s T-shirt campaign was certainly not the opposite of credible or stringent. It was a good sign that the players positioned themselves right on time for the start of qualifying for the rightly criticized World Cup tournament in Qatar on Thursday evening. For human rights and against the fatal exploitation of guest workers in the emirate or the persecution and discrimination of homosexuals.
And who, if not Leon Goretzka, who is considered a role model for mature football professionals because of his always clear statements on the subject of racism and his active engagement with topics such as the Holocaust, would be the statement that he made on behalf of the team after the 3-0 victory. Victory over Iceland, buy it off? “We want to make it clear to society that we are not ignoring this, but are clearly saying what the conditions are,” he said.
DFB stars between T-shirt and Qatar Airways commercial
So far, so good, so believable. Nevertheless, there was a certain double standard attached to the action. Five of the eleven players in the starting line-up for the qualifying game are under contract with Bayern Munich. At the club that regularly visits the training camp in the desert state with the dubious human rights situation during the winter and that has the partnership with the state airline of Qatar to be paid for like a king.
Now, of course, players are not responsible for the sponsorship and certainly have no say in it. But that in Leroy Sane and Joshua Kimmich two players who a month ago in a sanctimonious Advertising spot of that Qatari airline posed thoughtfully and said “Ain’t no sunshine”to put on T-shirts to set an example against the devastating human rights situation in the host country of the World Cup does not necessarily indicate a strict attitude.
In such circumstances, doubts are raised as to the sustainability of such messages. The T-shirt campaign alone is not enough. Further consequences are needed – from the player’s side, but also from the association’s side. For Kimmich, Sane and Co., for example, this means that they will no longer appear in commercials for Qatar Airways.
And for the DFB, with whom, according to Goretzka, the action was “jointly” created, it means not only internally (as claimed) “intensively” dealing with the human rights situation in the World Cup host country, but also doing so publicly .
For example, questions about a possible World Cup boycott, which a large majority according to one Representative Civey survey carried out by the Spiegel advocates not simply dismissing it as “not useful” (DFB President Fritz Keller), but at least taking part in the public discussion.