Germany’s Kroos criticises Qatar, workers suffer ‘a certain violence’

By Arne Richter and Klaus Bergmann, dpa

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos has named awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar a mistake and says that the conditions of migrant workers in the country amount to “a certain violence.”

Kroos, speaking in the latest Einfach Mal Luppen podcast he runs with his brother Felix, also suggested team protests during next year’s tournament.

However, the 101-times capped Real Madrid player said he was not in favour of a boycott because that would probably not change the working conditions in Qatar, or the fact that homosexuality is a criminal offence there.

“I rather believe that it is important to raise awareness for the problems, maybe in the run-up or during the tournament as well, so that something may improve,” Kroos said.

Kroos said “it was wrong that this tournament was awarded there” by the ruling body FIFA in 2010, partly because Qatar is not a traditional football power which would have made the awarding a logical step.

He criticised the working condition in the Gulf country, speaking of malnutrition and a lack of drinking water for the workforce, not only at World Cup sites.

Kroos said this amounted to “a certain violence … carried out on the workers.”

He added that not only labour laws were a problem but “a few other issues, such as for example that homosexuality is a criminal offence in Qatar and is persecuted.”

Germany have been among several teams who over the past days at World Cup qualifiers have called for human rights to be observed, without explicitly naming Qatar.

Defender Robin Gosens has said the Germans would stage another protest around Wednesday night’s game against North Macedonia. Kroos is not part of the German team owing to injury.

FIFA has not sanctioned teams over the protests although it normally prohibits political statements and gestures at games, stating freedom of expression.

But the governing body would hardly tolerate such action at the finals itself in November and December 2022.

British paper The Guardian said recently that 6,500 workers from five Asian have died in Qatar since 2010. Qatar has named the figure not excessive, given the overall workforce, and cites that various labour law reforms have been carried out.

Human right organizations like Amnesty International agree that progress has been made, oppose a boycott, but have urged FIFA to pressure Qatar for full implementation of the reforms and further measures.

Germany’s team has been backed by officials and coach Joachim Loew for their protests, with Loew saying that while he opposes a boycott the attention received through the protests could help.

Kroos agreed, saying: “What you can say in general, and that is also important, is that football must of course draw attention to the problems: with its range, and again and again.”

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