I don't hate soccer.

I just don't understand why people willingly watch other people chase a ball for ninety minutes.

Not to mention why people voluntarily run after a ball for ninety minutes.

I can't bring passion or even love into the field here, which the fans often refer to (and without which football seems to me to be almost unbearable).

In the fan curve, a doctor and a butcher, a data analyst and a hairdresser are embracing each other.

Every four years for the World Cup, everyone else gathers in front of the television or on the so-called public viewing mile, pours beer and cola down their throats and bawls.

Well, I guess, but keep me out of it.

Investigations into bribes

This year, the football World Cup will not take place in summer as usual, but in winter.

But in Qatar, where it's supposed to take place, it's summer even in winter, and temperatures are around 30 degrees.

The football stadiums should therefore be air-conditioned.

But that's not a problem at all, Qatar has enough oil and gas - it is the country with the highest CO2 emissions per capita in the world.

This World Cup has been a shady affair from the start: votes are said to have been bought and bribes paid, investigations are still ongoing.

One reads that workers (or rather slaves) from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka died in Qatar under mysterious circumstances.

Labor standards on the construction sites would not be observed.

Wages were sometimes not paid for several months, workers' passports were taken away.

Journalists are prevented from reporting.

There is no such thing as freedom of the press.

Qatar is also a monarchy.

And not a gossip column and wave-and-smile monarchy like England, but an absolute monarchy in which Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has the first and last word.

The Qataris, i.e. people with a Qatari passport, are well taken care of: electricity, water and education are free for them, the social system is well developed and the highly paid positions in the public sector are reserved for them.

Apart from the workers, it looks less exciting for gays and lesbians (homosexuality is forbidden in Qatar) or women.

Islamic law applies.

Women only inherit half.

If a woman is raped and therefore goes to the police, she can sometimes be punished for extramarital sex (also forbidden).

Foreign domestic workers are doubly and trebly affected by sexualised violence.

Although there have been legal reforms in recent years, human rights activists criticize: only on paper.

The kafala system (in short:

a local person vouches for a foreign worker who becomes heavily dependent as a result) continue to exist.

In addition, Qatar has been criticized for years for supporting Islamist militias in Syria, Libya, Somalia and Gaza.

Last month I met my friend Kamal Sido who was in Qatar for the Society for Threatened Peoples just in March.

We ate burgers together and he talked about churches that are only tolerated in secret, that apostasy is punishable by death, about people who were afraid to speak to him openly, and how he got into trouble with the security forces when he did that Al Jazeera building in Doha - Qatar's flagship Arabic television network.


Sport to have beautiful pictures

Why would you want to organize a football World Cup in such a country?

Or, to put it more simply, why does a country like Qatar want to host a soccer World Cup?

“Nation branding” is one answer.

Qatar is trying to polish its image through sporting events.

They want to produce beautiful pictures, deepen international contacts through sports diplomacy.

Qatar is not the first country to use sport as a soft power strategy, just think of the 2018 World Cup in Russia (despite the annexation of Crimea and Assad support), the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 (despite the surveillance state and the persecution of the Uyghurs) – or the 1978 World Cup, which took place under the military dictatorship of Argentina.

Dictator Videla babbled on about football as a bringer of peace in the opening speech.

Less than two kilometers from the football stadium,

in Esma torture prison, cheers could be heard when a goal was scored in a game.

After Argentina's victory, prisoners were wheeled through the streets to humiliate them.

Incidentally, there had also been protests in the run-up to the World Cup.

But even then it was said that the World Cup was an opportunity to relax the dictatorship and that it was not the task of footballers to position themselves politically.

It's all about the sport.

to position themselves politically.

It's all about the sport.

to position themselves politically.

It's all about the sport.

Statements such as the one that the football World Cup is an opportunity to improve the human rights situation in Qatar can be seen as magical thinking.

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has moved to Qatar with his family and is flying around the world in a private jet sponsored by Emir Al Thani.

He rambles on about the unifying power of football, saying things like: “Wherever we go, we prioritize the protection of human rights.” And Qatar may not be paradise – but which country is?

I remain at a loss.

With all that knowledge about slave labor, the absence of press freedom and women's rights, how can you endure just ninety minutes of football?

With all love.