Opinions - 15.11.2022 - 14:15 

World Cup boycott - What kind of boycott, please?

A FIFA World Cup that nobody wants. Calls for a boycott in the media. The real problems of the now taking place mega event in Qatar lie deeper. An opinion piece by Thomas Beschorner.
Source: HSG Newsroom

In the past weeks, I have often been asked whether I, as a die-hard football fan, will watch the upcoming World Cup or whether I will participate in the World Cup boycott. The fewer people watching the games in front of their TV sets, the fewer fans traveling to Qatar and the fewer jerseys being bought, the better. Because that sends an important signal to TV stations as well as to sponsors of the World Cup, namely: "not with us".

But: boycotting the World Cup? What kind of boycott is that, please? The games will take place! A real chance at a boycott has already passed us by. Neither national sports federations nor politicians even halfway seriously considered to say: We will not take part in it, and our national team will not play at this inhuman tournament. Several red lines have been crossed and we will not accept this event for moral reasons.

It would have been quite possible to think about an alternative world soccer tournament at an early stage. "Dortmund instead of Doha", as a possible German-region DACH event was never discussed.

It would simply have been the right thing to do if the Swiss or the German Football Association would have had renounced this FIFA tournament because the list of problems with this specific event is very long. Far too long. It started with the corrupt way that FIFA awarded Qatar the event itself and goes on to human rights violations (e.g. during the construction of the stadium), discrimination against minorities, ecological problems and ends with the strengthening of an undemocratic, authoritarian regime. To be very clear, these are not new insights. These problems have been on the table for many years.

Now on the horizon, we have a FIFA World Cup that no one wants. Why? Because the real bearers of responsibility, FIFA itself of course, and also the various national federations have chosen not to butt their heads with the all-powerful FIFA which controls the pinnacle event of the sport we love. Not one of them stood up and said, "no." Instead, they have hidden behind a mixture of opportunistic interests and a mantra that the World Cup tournament in Qatar would lead to democratization (it won't!).

Now, just days before the World Cup begins, the outrage is great. We are now discussing these issues with friends, with family, at the local pub and in the media - well, it is too late. We should be outraged by this outrage, because it holds a mirror up to our society which finds outrage in many situations but does not find the courage to do anything about it. Today we let our outrage slide in Qatar and if tomorrow another authoritarian regime finds themselves privileged enough to host the Olympic Games. Well then? Then we will be outraged again.

So will I watch the games of the World Cup as private Thomas or in my professional function as "Prof. Dr. something"? This question is not important, because the problems in sports as well as in society lie much deeper.

Photo: efks -