Doha repeatedly stressed that it responded to criticism by introducing major reform.
Many Germans expressed their opposition to mixing sports with politics during major sporting events in a survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Berlin’s news agency (DPA).
In the poll that was published this week, 46% of the Germans surveyed supported isolating sports and politics during major events such as the World Cup and Olympics whilst 38% voted in favour of mixing both matters.
The survey came after the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar ended, an intense 29 days of mixed emotions for millions of football fans.
The World Cup also saw acts of protest on the pitch, one of which included the German team’s viral mouth-covering move. The German team decided to cover their mouths as they posed for a group photo moments ahead of their opening game in Doha.
The move came in protest of FIFA’s decision to ban the “One Love” armband that supports the LGBTQ+ community on the pitch. The football governing body had said that any alteration to the players’ uniform required its pre-approval.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faesar, who previously triggered a spat between Doha and Berlin, was even seen wearing the armband at the stadium in the Gulf state.
The team’s act came off the back of western-driven criticism over Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, in which media outlets focused on Doha’s alleged abuse of migrant workers and policies on the LGBTQ+ community.
Qatar has repeatedly stressed that it responded to criticism by introducing major reform, most notably the dismantling of the controversial kafala, or sponsorship, system. It also stressed that everyone is welcome to enjoy the sports on its land.
Much of the criticism has been widely attributed to racism given that it particularly soared when Doha became the first ever Arab and Muslim nation to host the tournament. Officials in Qatar and beyond have described the coverage as an unprecedented campaign targeting the country.
Criticism persisted throughout the tournament while officials globally praised Qatar for hosting what was described as “the best World Cup” in the major event’s history.
Earlier this month, the vice president of the German Football Association Ronnie Zimmerman said the criticism over Qatar was harsh.
“I consider the general and absolute rejection an exaggeration, because it does not lead to anything but rejection from the other side,” Zimmerman told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung newspaper.
Meanwhile, German publication Der Spiegel had revealed that internal factions in Germany’s diplomatic and security circles were in turmoil.
The piece claimed that the German Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) regarded Doha as an “extremely well- connected and discreet partner that can be relied on,” Qatar Doha being the western country’s partner in various sensitive cases.