Qatarstrophe – Streich slams FIFA bosses

Freiburg coach Christian Streich has gotten famous over the years for his outbursts on the sidelines and his hilarious press conferences. The way he has handled the press over the years has grown so popular, the local paper Badische Zeitung has even decided to put videos of entire press conferences online. Within all the marvelous madness that is Christian Streich, it is often times forgotten that the coach has a consciousness and considerate side to himself.

Ahead of the match against Leverkusen Streich managed to sum up the feeling most football fans have been having ever since the FIFA decided to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar:

Qatar? I can’t find a reasonable explanation for why the World Cup is taking place there and at that time of the year. I don’t get it and I haven’t done so from the start.

The press has scrutinised the process of how the World Cup was awarded to Qatar ever since it happened back in 2012. After many unpleasant headlines in the press even FIFA themselves have found it necessary to react to the external pressure. Former FIFA investigator Michael Garcia handed in a report over 400 pages detailing what was going on when Russia and Qatar were awarded the World Cup. FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckhart ruled in the end that nothing untoward had been going on, causing Garcia to resign. FIFA has now decided to publish Garcia’s dossier in full later on this year.

In lights of the human rights violations in Qatar, Streich added:

It isn’t understandable from an ecological perspective as well as from a political point of view. It isn’t the right place. But, there are other countries that are just as borderline.

However, the Freiburg coach went on stating that the public shouldn’t be to single minded. Streich cited the newly released annual report by the human rights organisation Amnesty International, stating:

There have never been so many countries in the world using torture as there are right now. I think the number of countries is at 124, but I’m not sure and I don’t want to get my facts wrong. That’s catastrophic. It’s starting to get difficult to find countries to host sporting events that aren’t torturing their citizens. This development is disastrous. The things that are going on at the moment are sheer madness.

Amnesty International’s report for the year 2014 makes for grim reading indeed(outlining 131 countries and not 124 as Streich did).

Among the main criticisms against Qatar has been the treatment of construction workers building the new World Cup venues. The nation had made several promises after being awarded the World Cup three years ago, but few of them have been kept so far. In its report the organisation writes:

Construction workers were exposed to hazardous conditions. Under the Labour Law, migrant workers were prohibited from forming or joining trade unions.

The government announced that it had increased the number of labour inspectors; that it was subjecting more companies to punitive sanctions; and that it had planned measures to improve conditions for migrant workers, including new accommodation standards and an electronic wage protection system. However, these measures had not been made law by the end of the year.

Migrant domestic workers, mostly women, and certain other workers were specifically excluded from the Labour Law, exposing them to greater labour exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse.1 The government repeatedly stated its commitment to enact legislation to address this problem but it had not done so by the end of the year. Women domestic workers were liable to face prosecution and imprisonment for “illicit relations” if they reported sexual abuse by employers.

The 2009 Sponsorship Law, which requires foreign workers to obtain a sponsor’s permission to leave Qatar or change employer, continued to be exploited by employers to prevent workers from complaining to the authorities or moving to a new job in the event of abuse. The sponsorship system increased the likelihood of workers being subjected to forced labour and human trafficking. In May, the government announced proposed reforms to the sponsorship system to amend the procedure for workers to leave Qatar and allow workers to change employers after the completion of their contract or after five years with the same employer. At the end of the year, no legislation had been passed and no drafts had been published.2 In April the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants urged the government to abolish the sponsorship system.

Despite the fact that Qatar has come under scrutiny over the last few years, Streich reminded the press that the struggle for human rights is limited to nations outside of Europe and North-America.

We can’t turn our back on what is going on in the west. Even in our part of the world, there are things happening in certain countries which are absolutely unacceptable.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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