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The former Germany striker and current director of its national team Oliver Bierhoff has raised concerns over the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, adding that Fifa overlooked issues such as human rights violations when making its decision.
The tournament gets underway in November as is expected to take place amid protests from national teams over the country’s human rights record, including Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBT+ community.
Fifa has been criticised by groups such as Amnesty International, who claim football’s governing body has failed “to put in place adequate processes” to prevent the problems since it was awarded the tournament in 2010.
When asked specifically about the LGBT+ community following the broadcast of an investigative documentary in Germany, in which one homosexual interviewee spoke of living in fear of Qatar’s LGBT+ laws and attitudes, Bierhoff replied: “How could FIFA award [the World Cup] to this country?”
The 54-year-old accepted that Fifa had a responsibility to take the World Cup outside of traditional football strongholds such as Europe and South America but said that “commercial interests” took priority when awarding the tournament to Qatar.
“On the one hand, I always thought at first: ‘Who does football belong to? Does it belong to Europe, to South America or does it belong to the whole world?” Bierhoff added. “But the world has changed. The demands, the expectations of the fans, of the people [have changed]. We have to consider that, too.”
England captain Harry Kane has said he has consulted with the captains of rival teams over taking a collective stance ahead of the World Cup, but the FA have yet to determine their action despite there just being only a few months until the start of the tournament.
Kane said: “I have spoken to some of the other players around the team and a couple of the other players from some European countries. Once we have come to a conclusion on that we will let everyone know but it is still an ongoing conversation and nothing is set in stone. But it is a necessary conversation about what we want to do leading up to the World Cup and at the World Cup itself.”