Can we advocate humanist values ​​and sign a sponsorship contract with Qatar? Bayern Munich “socios” want to ask the question Thursday at the club’s annual general meeting, unhappy to see the “Rekordmeister” accepting income from a country accused of human rights abuses.

“For money, we launder everything,” Bayern fans posted on November 6.

Keystone

It is impossible to know how many supporters are really involved in this protest action. Probably a minority among the 293,000 official club members. But in a Germany traditionally very sensitive to questions of sports ethics, their voice carries.

During the last home game, millions of viewers saw the banner unfurled in the popular stand of the Allianz Arena: Herbert Hainer and Oliver Kahn, the two club bosses, are caricatured with a washing machine, a bloody jersey Qatar and two suitcases of dollars, under the slogan: “For money, we launder everything”. The initiative obviously finds a particular resonance with the approach of the 2022 World Cup, organized in November / December in the emirate.

Last week, in view of the general assembly of the club, the protesters tried to impose a motion demanding the non-renewal of sponsorship agreements with the airline company Qatar Airways, which run until 2023. The justice rejected the request, but the opponents assure that the fight continues.

“Massive violations”

“We want to obtain preventive measures, to avoid a renewal of the contract”, assures Michel Ott, their spokesperson. “Qatar is guilty of massive human rights violations, and there are heavy suspicions of corruption in sport.”

The protesters are based on reports from NGOs which accuse Qatar of exploiting foreign workers, especially in the construction of stadiums for the next World Cup. They also blame Doha for its law banning homosexuality. The country vigorously rejects these criticisms, stressing that it has reformed its labor law and introduced a minimum wage. He also promises that LGBT supporters will be welcome at the World Cup.

But the opponents do not disarm: “Cooperating with a state enterprise helps deflect attention from grievances and disseminate an image of the country modern and open to the world,” they accuse.

The logo of the airline is displayed on the sleeve of Bayern shirts, for around 20 million euros per year, according to the German press, far behind the four major sponsor-shareholders Allianz, Audi, Adidas and Telekom.

In addition, the Bavarian team has been on an internship every year for a week in Qatar during the winter break, as part of a long-term partnership.

Rummenigge assume

According to the popular daily Bild, several star players including captain Manuel Neuer have also asked their leaders not to renew the contract. The club bosses are caught in the crossfire.

Traditionally, Bayern has been at the forefront of taking ethical positions against racism, anti-Semitism or homophobia. But giving up sponsorship income would be very painful. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former strongman of the club, who negotiated the partnership in 2018, defends his choice of the time by the desire to remain competitive in Europe against rivals with almost unlimited resources.

“We now have clubs like Manchester City with Abu Dhabi, PSG with Qatar, Chelsea with billionaire Abramovich and Manchester United with American billionaires,” he said in a recent podcast, “if we stay in Germany with a completely different culture (…), I must honestly say that we will slowly have to worry about the Bundesliga and its clubs. “

Faced with the sling, Bayern leaders are currently using an argument widely heard elsewhere but contested: we have more levers, they believe, to influence the human rights situation of a state through the presence there and the exchange only through boycott.

ATS

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