Critics went too far in attacking Qatar for its hosting of the World Cup, the vice president of the German Football Association has said, adding that the country’s culture and heritage should be respected.
Ronnie Zimmerman told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday that the extreme criticism and condemnation of Qatar since 2010 was not the proper course of action.
“I consider the general and absolute rejection an exaggeration, because it does not lead to anything but rejection from the other side,” he said.
Qatar has “changed a lot of things positively in recent years, also with regard to working conditions for foreign workers,” he added.
Zimmerman said that after speaking to citizens and foreign and European workers who have lived in Qatar for several years, he saw a different picture of the country.
“I came to an Arab country for the first time in my life and after all the negative reports, frankly, I was very surprised by the openness and friendliness of our reception,” Zimmerman said.
Tensions arose between Germany and Qatar over the World Cup, as German politicians and players sought to use the tournament to express political messages.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in October that Qatar’s hosting of the tournament was “very tricky” for the German government, saying “it would be better that tournaments are not awarded to such states.”
In response, Qatar’s foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador, while the Gulf Cooperation Council issued a statement to condemn the “violation of diplomatic norms, traditions and international laws.”
Comments made by Faeser that triggered a diplomatic spat between Doha and Berlin were “misinterpreted,” the official claimed during a visit to the Gulf state, Al Jazeera reported.
Faeser paid a two-day visit to the Qatari capital amid a feud that was sparked over her public criticism of Qatar’s hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“It is important to support the country of Qatar in groundbreaking reforms,” Faeser said.
“That is why I have decided to continue to be part of the process and travel to the first match of the German team.”
However, Faeser went on to wear the controversial OneLove armband in support of the LGBTQ Community during Germany’s match against Japan.