On one of the glittering facades, the larger-than-life image of Manuel Neuer greets the world championship drivers. The organizers of the highly controversial football World Cup in Qatar advertise with the captain of the German national team and other stars in the middle of Doha.
After years of discussions about corruption and human rights, the tournament will be opened with a bang with the host's game against Ecuador on Sunday (5 p.m. / ZDF and MagentaTV). The enthusiasm, especially in Germany, seems to be at a low point now that the time has come and national coach Hansi Flick has arrived in the Gulf with his DFB selection.
In a representative survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the German Press Agency, only four percent of those questioned stated that they found it right that the finals were to be held in the emirate. Two-thirds find it rather or clearly wrong that games will be played in and around Doha until December 18th. This coincides with the loud protests of many fans in Germany who have called for a personal boycott in recent weeks. Informal football festivals at the most unusual times of the year next to Christmas trees and Advent wreaths are hard to imagine.
A different picture is conveyed in Qatar. Colorful pictures and videos of people celebrating with fan props from a number of World Cup participants have been seen around the world in recent days. The WM logo is visible everywhere in the metropolis, and a group in black, red and gold spread the mood. All bought, observers on social media suspect. The World Cup organizing committee and people who cheered reject that. According to the organizers, the World Cup "really represents a moment that connects fans from all over the world". Qatar, your Christmas fairy tale?
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who does not have to worry about being re-elected for a third term in March without the support of the German Football Association, has long since promised "the best World Cup of all time". As always. Even the opening ceremony is already being advertised. "For the first time" it won't just be someone singing before kick-off, the AP news agency quotes one of the creative people behind the 30-minute show in Al-Bait Stadium, in which Qatar has invested heavily. That fits in with the grand scheme of things at this World Cup, behind the scenes in the strictly Islamic country, according to reports, beer prices are still being argued about. The first days of the World Cup will show how the culture and legal situation in the Gulf with thousands of fans from all over the world fit together.
DFB President Bernd Neuendorf will make further classifications this Friday in the national team's luxurious headquarters far in the north of the country. "I think the tournament has already changed the sport," the 61-year-old said recently. Sport has "become more political". With other European associations, the DFB has formed a kind of working group on how to deal with the host and criticism.
"One Love" captain's armband instead of rainbow
The common symbol - the multi-colored "One Love" captain's armband - had led to criticism because it is not (yet) the more symbolic rainbow. The safety and freedom of people in the LGBTQI* community is one of the major and worrying World Cup issues, along with the living conditions for the millions of foreign workers in Qatar.
"As hard as it is for you, dear football fans, leave the TV off to protest! Boycott this World Cup! Don't go to Qatar! (...) Don't give the inhuman system of FIFA and Qatar a single cent," said the lesbian and gay association in Germany (LSVD) with. LGBT is the English abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The variants LGBTQ, LGBTQI or LGBTQIA* are also often used. Each letter represents one's gender identity or sexual orientation. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser brought back a "safety guarantee" from the Qatar government for all fans from her visit to the World Cup host. A "pure farce," writes the LSVD. Homosexuality is forbidden by law in the emirate.
The German fans in the "Fan Club National Team" will move into their quarters in Dubai and fly in for the group matches against Japan (November 23), Spain (November 27) and Costa Rica (December 1). The DFB emphasized that "our fans do not have to charter any additional flights, but we split our group between the existing flight offers".
DFB team "doesn't want to duck away"
It is unclear whether members of the federal government, which was newly linked to Qatar in the energy crisis, will travel to Qatar. Faeser wanted to sit in the stands for the Japan game, but after homophobic statements by a World Cup ambassador in the ZDF documentary "Geheimsache Qatar", the SPD politician's flight to Qatar is no longer set.
In Qatar, the DFB selection should concentrate primarily on the complicated title mission - and Neuendorf should take on as much of the human rights debate as possible. However, Flick emphasized that the team, which only performed poorly in the last friendly against Oman (1-0), would "not duck". It is "enormously important that we as the DFB concentrate on the sporting side on the one hand, but also have to clearly address the human rights situation in Qatar. We have to keep our eyes and ears open. We don't want to duck away and be very clear draw attention to the grievances." According to surveys, this is also the expectation in Germany.
In terms of sport, almost a third of Germans believe they can reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, and only a few believe that the DFB selection will be able to win the title. It remains unclear who is really watching in Germany. In the survey, just over a quarter of those surveyed stated that they would probably watch as many games on TV as at previous World Cups (26 percent). 20 percent plan to follow fewer games, 19 percent expect not to follow any games. Only five percent stated that they would probably watch more games. 23 percent stated that they were generally not interested in football and therefore did not follow a game. 7 percent did not provide any information.