Another scandal ahead of the 2022 World Cup: Fifa bet on the last shred of decency

Updated 11/11/2022 13:23

Qatar’s World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman called gays “mental damage”. The world association Fifa is silent on this. And it hurts football more and more: the last bit of decency is being lost.


This column presents the view of Pit Gottschalk. Find out how our editors deal with opinions in texts.

It is heard from all corners that the lack of interest in the World Cup in Qatar is great. The rationale varies. Sometimes it’s the timing (“November instead of summer!”), sometimes the host country (“What does Qatar have to do with soccer?”), sometimes the local circumstances (“Human rights! Working conditions!”), sometimes the type of twelve-year award (“Corruption! “).

First, each argument is valid and second, correct: The 2022 FIFA World Cup should never have been awarded to Qatar. And when the official ambassador of the World Cup on ZDF denies homosexuals the right to life, another scandal is perfect: Qatar confirms the reservations and accusations.

Trampling football values

It is not enough that FIFA President Gianni Infantino is now calling on all footballing nations to unite and only asking for a statement on sporting matters. When Qatar’s ambassador to the World Cup and former international Khalid Salman accuses Jochen Breyer of “psychological damage” in an interview with ZDF, he not only exposes the facade game of the World Cup host. The values ​​of football and thus the world association are stepping on both feet. The FIFA president, who takes it easy and does nothing, also likes to eat breakfast. His predecessor, Joseph Blatter, has now seen the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar as a “mistake”. Why is Infantino still on the prowl?

In preparation for the 2022 World Cup, I’ve been reading Christoph Biermann’s new book on the excesses of “modern football”. Book Title: “At Any Cost: The True Story of Modern Football from 1992 to the Present”. If I had to find a word that best describes the development it describes, it would be “market expansion” because it involves both the accumulation of money and the pursuit of power. In short: The wrong way in the world association Fifa, ruled by greed and elitism, could only lead to the downfall of man with Qatar. What I’m just wondering: Where were and are the forces that take countermeasures in time before it’s too late? All questions without answers.

FIFA is playing for time before the World Cup

The oft-used excuse that living and working conditions in Qatar are improving because the World Cup always draws attention to world opinion and changes things for the better in the host country has been debunked many times since the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Recent examples: The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup did not clean Russia. China displays its inhumane doctrine despite the fact that Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Games. Anyone who still believes that Qatar is taking the lead in the human rights movement must be Gianni Infantino.

The FIFA president will shake hands with those in power in Doha with the same smile as IOC president Thomas Bach in Sochi and Beijing. In fact, probably only one in four participating countries criticizes Qatar hosting the World Cup. Fifa plays for time: at some point the ball is rolling and with each close match the football fever rises, with each tricky situation at the table the fear increases, with each result the willingness to discuss – about football. Going back to the first sentence: I am very curious to see if the alleged lack of interest will continue when the World Cup is ten days old. I assume: no. At some point, it’s about football.

The sad truth is: And with that, Infantino gets away with it again.

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Pit Gottschalk is a journalist, author and editor-in-chief of SPORT1. You can get his free football newsletter Fever Pit’ch here.

Fever Pit’ch is Pit Gottschalk’s daily football reporter. Every morning at 6:10 a.m., subscribers receive a commentary on the football topic of the day and links to the best football stories in the German media.


Two weeks before the start of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, its official World Cup ambassador caused a scandal. Khalid Salman, who was a former international, described being gay as “mental damage” in an interview.

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