For the Austrian national team, the World Cup qualification kicked off with a 2-2 draw at the Scots. The upcoming World Cup, however, is not under a good star. Reports increased that during the construction work on the stadiums – in the host city of Qatar – more than 6,500 people died. ÖFB President Leo Windtner spoke out against a boycott and justified his opinion.
National teams such as Germany, Norway and the Netherlands expressed public protests against the human rights situation in the host country. According to Windtner, the protest actions are “absolutely legitimate”, but the ÖFB wants to keep away from calls for boycotts for the time being. “A boycott will not be feasible, and that would not improve the situation either,” the Upper Austrian told the APA.
The World Cup in Qatar will start in just under a year and a half. Thanks to the increasing media attention, a positive influence can be exerted. “If the country is in the center of the world public, there is probably a far greater possibility of controlling human rights than if one were to hide the headlights,” said Windtner.
“Of course, the situation is not comparable to that in countries in the free democratic world, but that was something that had to be taken into account when awarding the contract to Qatar and it was obviously accepted,” emphasized the 70-year-old.
In an official ÖFB statement on the subject of Qatar it was said, among other things: “The ÖFB condemns all kinds of human rights violations in the strongest possible way.” Participation in the World Cup could still achieve more than a boycott. “We are convinced that a World Cup on site has a more lasting effect and brings more improvements for the population and workers than going away from where you should look,” announced the Austrian Football Association.