The outrage over the homophobic statements made by Qatar's World Cup ambassador, Khalid Salman, is unanimous in Germany. But a week and a half before the start of the soccer World Cup in the emirate, it is becoming increasingly clear how difficult it is to deal with the controversial host.
The Federal Foreign Office, for example, condemned Salman's statements through its spokeswoman Andrea Sasse, but the Foreign Ministry is not currently planning a warning for LGBTIQ people traveling to the emirate.
In the ZDF documentary "Geheimsache Qatar", former Qatar international Khalid Salman described being gay as "mental damage". "From our point of view, it is an incredibly homophobic failure," said Sasse at the federal press conference.
No travel warning
The government of Qatar has assured that all fans are welcome at the World Cup, which begins on November 20th. "We rely on that," said the spokeswoman. In general, there is no warning against traveling to Qatar. Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann had previously warned of compliance with the security guarantees for fans in Qatar. These are "important and essential," said the FDP politician to ZDF.
Former professional Thomas Hitzlsperger regretted that the national players did not take a clearer position. At the same time, in an interview with "Zeit", he also showed understanding for the reluctance of his former colleagues. For the ARD report "Qatar - why only?" the 40-year-old spoke to national goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and midfielder Ilkay Gündogan about the World Cup and Qatar, among others.
"These are very decent guys, open and approachable in private conversations. As soon as the camera is rolling, they exercise caution, for example with statements like: 'Yes, we are for the observance of human rights,'" said Hitzlsperger. "The discussions surrounding this World Cup are visibly exhausting, so in the end there are often only general statements."
Statements "unacceptable and very sad"
Neuer and his club and national team colleague Leon Goretzka found clear words about Salman's statements. "What we have doesn't fit in at all with our world view," said the FC Bayern goalkeeper in Munich when the new club car was handed over. "This is unacceptable and very sad to hear that."
Goretzka had already sharply criticized the statements after the 6-1 win against Werder Bremen on Tuesday evening. "It's very oppressive, you have to say. It's just a human image from another millennium," said the 27-year-old. "That's not what we want to stand for and what we live by example. It is absolutely unacceptable to make such a statement."
According to the current status, national goalkeeper Neuer should wear a "One Love" captain's armband at the World Cup in Qatar. "Of course we hope that we can use the One Love tie to place a lot of power with other nations," said the 36-year-old. At the end of September, the DFB announced the joint campaign with other top nations. "One Love" is written on the multicolored captain's armband. The color scheme was criticized because it did not represent the rainbow flag. Neuer wore such a captain's armband during the 2021 European Championship.
According to ARD expert Hitzlsperger, it would be a powerful sign if a player announced his coming out at the World Cup. "I would think it would be great if someone did it," he told Die Zeit. "But I wouldn't ask for it." A World Cup may not be the best moment for such a step. "The players go there to perform at their best. Coming out would be, I know, a maximum distraction. You might choose a different time."