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Sports

Rethink Qatar 2022 World Cup, urges German cabinet minister

Germany’s new Development Minister Gerd Müller has called on FIFA to abandon Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup. He has also accused this year’s host Brazil of ignoring social and ecological needs.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller became on Sunday the first member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet to publicly confront world football's governing body FIFA over its allocation of its 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Müller told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that human rights breaches on the

Gulf state's stadium construction sites

even extended to "slave labor."

Muller said FIFA's venue allocation to the energy-rich Gulf emirate - decided in late 2010 - was a mistake and a "misjudgment."

Contrary to climate goals

FIFA's choice of Qatar also contradicted global efforts to tackle climate change, Müller said

Entwicklungsminister Gerd Müller in der Zentralafrikanischen Republik

Müller wants FIFA to rethink Qatar 2022

"What is that as a signal for worldwide climate protection if stadiums are built in the middle of the desert which then have to be acclimatized with high energy expenditure?," Müller asked.

"If FIFA is clever, it will reverse its decision," Müller said, referring to Qatar.

Wasteful spending in Brazil

Brazil too had spent billions on its soccer venues instead of social projects vital for Brazilians, he added.

"It is no longer up-to-date to run a football World Cup elevated over [the needs of] people and to ignore social and ecological standards."

He cited as an example one of Brazil's 12 venues, Manaus.

"There a stadium has been built in the middle of a tropical rainforest, without clarifying [the issue] of sustainability. That is irresponsible," said

Müller who is Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

in Merkel's new grand coalition cabinet.

'Careful use' of resources

Sports events, like any realm of life, must be compatible with the principle of sustainability, "meaning a careful use of our resources," said Müller, 58, who was previously German states secretary for nutrition, agriculture and consumer protection.

Last September, the British newspaper Guardian highlighted deaths of migrant workers – largely from Nepal and India - on Qatari worksites, prompting an outcry by trade unions and human rights campaigners.

In February, Qatar published stricter measures for contractors who hire workers for tournament construction.

Last month, Amnesty International urged FIFA to speak out on behalf of workers at Qatar's stadium sites.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the responsibility largely lay with Qatar and construction companies involved.

'Cannot interfere'

"We have some responsibility but we cannot interfere in the rights of workers," Blatter told a press conference in Zurich.

Brazil is due to host the World Cup in June and July. Last week, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke admitted that Brazil's preparations were running "late."

Brazilian protest groups

- aghast at costs that have soared to $11 billion (8 billion euros) - have vowed to disrupt the tournament to highlight social and economic ills in Brazil.

ipj/dr (AFP, dpa, SID, KNA, Reuters)

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