The World Cup ticket in your pocket, an atmospheric farewell to friend and sponsor Joachim Löw on the program – and the delicate vaccination debate about Joshua Kimmich no longer has the highest priority.
Hansi Flick could look forward to a relaxed end to the year including a six-win start record. But before the qualification ends with the games against Liechtenstein in Wolfsburg on Thursday and three days later in far-away Armenia, the national coach will also be confronted with the downsides of the 2022 World Cup.
Irritant topic and area of tension
Qatar remains a hot topic and area of tension for football. Flick and his national players will have to deal with the political situation in the emirate and act again in the coming months. Boycott, no. Public pressure, yes. This is the clear demand made by human rights expert Wenzel Michalski a year before the World Cup kick-off. In return, the head of Human Rights Watch is happy to offer the DFB stars lessons in social studies in the year of the World Cup.
“The DFB should address human rights violations openly. It should not restrict the freedom of expression of players who are motivated to say something, but support them and protect them from attacks,” said Michalski in an interview with the “Tagesspiegel”.
Flick had recently ignored the critical aspects of the mega-event in the emirate such as unworthy working conditions for construction workers and reprisals against homosexuals. After taking office, his focus was initially on sporting aspects. With the expected win against Liechtenstein, he would be the first national coach to win his first six games. Even before the meeting point with his 27-man squad on Monday in the Ritz Carlton Hotel next to Wolfsburg’s Autostadt, he continued his tour of the Bundesliga stadiums in Leipzig and Berlin to observe his World Cup candidates.
“Sport will and must always have priority”
“As the new coaching team for the national team, we have determined that our first courses must first focus on football. Sport will and must always have priority. We have very little time until the World Cup,” said Flick of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine” Newspaper”. There is no need to talk to the generation of national players around Kimmich and Leon Goretzka about socio-political engagement. “Signs like the rainbow band or kneeling stand for the values of the national team and the DFB, for the values of football,” said Flick.
And yet the pressure on the football cosmos is growing again. The T-shirt and banner campaigns of the DFB stars for human rights before the first three qualifying games in March are losing their appeal. “Nobody has to. But of course the players have a role model function. You can see that in the case of Joshua Kimmich and his refusal to be vaccinated. Especially when the players play in a country with such deficits in human rights, it is popular to comment on it, “said Michalski, who sees the DFB and FIFA as an individual rather than the individual star.
Personal tutoring in social studies for Flick?
The human rights expert has already been consulted by the DFB and made Flick a World Cup offer: personal tutoring in social studies. “I hope we get another chance to talk to Hansi Flick and the players. I am happy to offer that,” said Michalski. To think that coaches and players can make an impression for themselves on site is “naive”. The same certainly applies to DFB director Oliver Bierhoff, who is currently looking for a suitable World Cup location in Qatar. “You have to think about it beforehand: do we live in a hotel that was built by exploited workers?” Said Michalski.
The connection between FC Bayern and its sponsor, Doha Airport, is questionable, which the fans of the record champions criticized with a large banner and allegations to their top officials Oliver Kahn and Herbert Hainer at the Bundesliga game against SC Freiburg on Saturday. “If he still gets involved, then he has to say publicly that the airport was built by workers who have been exploited. Companies have a human rights obligation, and professional sport is also a company,” said Michalski.
At the World Cup, the DFB stars would “only find impressive architecture and great luxury. Everything is glamorous: shopping malls with the best designer brands, American sports bars with American beer, nice waiters in beautiful uniforms,” said the 58-year-old. “Flick should rely on what human rights activists, trade unionists and journalists have found out in their research,” said Michalski. The workers, exploited despite moderate change in Qatar, lived far away from the World Cup hype in the desert.
Stand: 07.11.2021, 12:03