Criticizing the upcoming World Cup host nation for its human rights record while at the same time excluding the press from covering an event discussing the very topic? The DFB have shot themselves in the foot quite remarkably.
A fan delegate from Germany has openly addressed the ambassador of Qatar to Germany at a congress in Germany. He spoke about his homosexuality an that it is normal in Germany. Though this ma r true on the surface, homophobia is rife in Germany, too. It is however, not officially banned as it is in Qatar, just as alcohol consumption is in public.
It is an important statement to make yet it is too little, too late. The DFB will send their squad as will 31 other federations. Billions of people will tune in and watch. And football will lose more of its credibility.
"I love men. I have sex with other men. This is normal."
Please take a moment and listen to what Dario Minden, a representative of the German association of fan groups, had to say to Qatar's ambassador to Germany ahead of #Qatar2022 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️
— Felix Tamsut (@ftamsut) September 19, 2022
spot the irony
Crucially, this statement was made during a congress organised by the DFB from which the press were excluded. The topic was “football and human rights” The only footage available originates from DFB.tv, the inhouse video platform of the DFB. Thus, while it is OK that the German national team will play in Qatar in the pursuit of glory, the German Federation criticizes the country for its human rights record – let’s not talk about freedom of the press, nor of speech – but the press is excluded from the same event? Spot the irony!
At the same time it is typical of football in our times. When there is money to be made, issues such as human rights and even things as vaguely defined as legacy (think London 2012) are cast aside without much hesitation. Examples abound. To date, there is no male professional footballer at the top level who has come out as homosexual. Those who did, have either already stopped playing or ply their trade at a lower level of the football pyramide. As important as those statements and any comings out are, the reactions from fans and the media are mere lip service. To raise awareness and increase tolerance for any kinds of orientation as well as beliefs is one of the most important issues of our times. This includes sports as one of the most important societal subsystems.
As Eddie Vedder sings in “Off he goes”:
“Nothing’s changed but the surrounding bullshit that has grown”