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Club World Cup: Bayern fans issue fresh Qatar criticism

February 8, 2021

German and European champions Bayern Munich are in Qatar for the Club World Cup. Meanwhile, a Bayern supporter is appealing a ban which his lawyer claims is linked to his criticism of his club's dealings with Qatar.

Bayern Munich fans protest against their club's dealings with Qatar
Bayern Munich fans protest against their club's dealings with QatarImage: Munich's Red Pride

As Bayern Munich's first team squad jetted off to Qatar for the Club World Cup on Saturday morning, several Bayern fans back in Munich unveiled a banner outside the club's Allianz Arena.

Published online by the fan group "Munich's Red Pride" (MRP), the banner appears to show Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and club president Herbert Hainer chasing a suitcase full of money held by a wagon driver, seemingly representing the state of Qatar and trampling over workers' rights and the values of Bayern Munich.

MRP, whose members follow Bayern home and away and also attend reserve team matches under normal circumstances, have regularly voiced criticism of their club's dealings with the Middle Eastern state.

In fact, one member is currently in the process of appealing an internal ban issued to him by Bayern Munich, obstensibly for taking part in an anti-Mondays protest at a reserve team game in February 2020.

In a letter dated March 11, 2020, and bearing the signatures of CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and executive vice-chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen, the reason for the house ban was given as the "unpermitted positioning of a banner" which read: "Bayern Amateurs against Monday games."

But the fan's lawyer, Dr. Andreas Hüttl, suspects an ulterior motive.

"My client is involved in the criticism of Bayern Munich's dealings with Qatar," Hüttl told DW on Monday. "The reason why he alone has been sanctioned can only be that the club wants to silence a critical fan."

Bayern Munich supporters with a banner reading: "Bayern Amateurs against Monday games!"
"Bayern Amateurs against Monday games!" The banner for which a Bayern fan has ostensibly been banned, although his lawyer suspects an ulterior motive.Image: Munich's Red Pride

Long-running criticism, club denials

In January 2020, the supporter in question was a speaker at an event in Munich titled "Qatar, Human Rights and FC Bayern: hands out, mouths shut?" organized by active Bayern supporters and featuring human rights campaigners as guests.

An invitation for the club to send a representative to the event went unanswered, although CEO Rummenigge did insist to Munich's Abendzeitung newspaper in January 2019 that Bayern's engagement in Qatar had brought about a "positive development in the legal situation of immigrant workers" in the country and "improvements in workers' rights."

A year later however, in February 2020, London-based not-for-profit human rights campaign company Fair Square Projects wrote to Bayern claiming that "progress has been limited in scope and as yet not effective in implementation" and that "workers remain acutely vulnerable to trafficking and forced labour."

They added that "it is unclear what remedial action has been taken to improve this situation" but said they never received a reply.

Bayern beat Egyptian side Al Ahly 2-0at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in ar-Rayyan on Monday evening to secure a place in the final against Mexican outfit Tigres on Thursday.

DW Matthew Ford Sports
Matt Ford Reporter and editor for DW Sports specializing in European football, fan culture & sports politics.@matt_4d
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