ARCHIV - ILLUSTRATION - Fans der Fußball-Nationalmannschaft von Katar warten am 07.01.2011 auf den Beginn des Eröffnungsspiels des Asien-Cups 2011 im Khalifa-Stadion in Doha. Nach Angaben von FIFA-Generalsekretär Jérôme Valcke soll die Fußball-WM 2022 in Katar nicht in den Sommermonaten stattfinden. Foto: Andreas Gebert/dpa (zu dpa «Neue Vorwürfe um Katar-WM - Beckenbauer: Bin falscher Ansprechpartner» am 09.06.2014) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

The whistle will kick off on November 20th, the Sunday of the Dead. That fits. The deceased is to be remembered and the mourners to be comforted. Right at the opening game, essential things are remembered. Of death and grief.

How many migrant workers have died on construction sites in Qatar so that the soccer World Cup can take place there in the desert? Estimates vary, but there were certainly thousands. They came from countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, were desperately poor, were exploited, discriminated against and abused. All of this is documented by human rights organizations, the media and the International Federation of Trade Unions.

Nevertheless: Everyone joins in, looks aside coyly when they are confronted with questions about humanity and the basics of morality. Cancel now and boycott the World Cup? It’s too late, they say. This is of no use to anyone, the players are prepared and would be deprived of their lifelong dream. The ball should roll.

A compensation fund could also be set up to compensate families who have lost loved ones. Qatar is rich. That would raise large sums of money. With a total investment amount of 50 billion dollars for hosting the World Cup, Sheikh Mohammed Hamad bin Chalifa Al Thani, the mentor of the World Cup bid, could also be a little generous in this regard. Do what you have to do. Once goals are scored, the nagging will stop.

But the closer the date gets, the harder it is to suppress. How does jubilation at a gate ring out over graves? How does it feel to be happy about a victory that was bought with the suffering of those left behind? More and more tormentingly, it becomes clear how absurd, scandalous and inhuman this World Cup is. Where to start, where to stop?

In the fatal award maybe twelve years ago, when the emirate surprisingly prevailed against the USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Eight years later, it emerged that three FIFA officials had bought crucial votes. But by then the construction work in Qatar was well advanced and Fifa was afraid of claims for damages. In addition, the World Football Association has traditionally not taken it too seriously when it comes to bribery and corruption.

Or the heat. In air-conditioned aircraft, the visitor lands at the air-conditioned Doha Airport, gets into an air-conditioned taxi that takes him to his air-conditioned hotel. In summer, temperatures in Qatar rise to more than 50 degrees. Therefore, the tournament was exceptionally moved to the Advent season. Still it will be warm. The pitch and seats in the eight stadiums are air-cooled by fans and huge blowers. The technology is said to be based on solar energy.

The German fans, on the other hand, must be completely free of any flight shame in order not to burden their conscience additionally. Qatar is small, smaller than Schleswig-Holstein. The capital, Doha, is also small, and hotel capacity is limited. The German fan camp therefore had to be relocated to Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, around 650 kilometers away. The black, red and gold fans are flown in and out to every game of the national team. The issue of serving beer in the Islamic country has yet to be resolved.

The German Football Association (DFB), on the other hand, prefers seclusion and has moved to a luxury quarter around a hundred kilometers away in the north of the country. The resort is owned by real estate company Msheireb Properties. In the “Sportschau” a former guest worker reported on the exploitative living and working conditions in the hotel complex. The whistleblower later ended up in prison.

In general, the emirate is not on good terms with its critics. In early May 2015, a BBC television crew was arrested and held for two nights for investigating the working conditions of low-wage migrants. For the same reason, two Norwegian journalists were arrested in November 2021 and detained for 36 hours. Only after a report by Amnesty International from April 2022, in which serious human rights violations in the form of forced labor were denounced, did the Qatari World Cup organizers promise to take action against the systematic exploitation of the workers.

Why Qatar? At the time of Fifa’s decision for the country, it was ranked 113th in the world. The main source of jurisprudence is the Sharia. A woman who gives birth to an illegitimate child ends up in prison for 12 months, extramarital sex is punishable by up to seven years in prison, homosexuality is forbidden and can mean the death penalty for Muslims.

Qatar supports the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood as well as Hamas. The government tolerates Qatari private individuals transferring millions to the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Amnesty International speaks of a “World Cup of shame”. The adjectives in the media range from “absurd” to “grotesque” to “cynical”.

The timetable is now on autopilot. All objections are history. The fact that the former DFB President Theo Zwanziger had spoken out in favor of a new tender, as did the former President of the English Football Association, David Bernstein, and the International Trade Union Confederation: over and forgotten. The fact that even Qatar fan and former Fifa President Sepp Blatter called the allocation of this World Cup a “mistake”: forget it.

What to do? Shut down, refuse, boycott all transmissions. For die-hard football fans, this is an impertinence that requires willpower. But it’s not harder to bear than the impertinence of this World Cup.