By Andrew Thompson
Published: November 16, 2021 5:45 pm
Last Updated: November 16, 2021 5:57 pm
Hitzlsperger questions World Cup-driven progress
Former German international and Aston Villa cult hero Thomas Hitzlsperger has unleashed a typical long-range thunderbolt that was seen across his cult hero career.
But rather than bulging the back of the net, he has taken aim at FIFA and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.
When speaking to German outlet Kicker, the VfB Stuttgart sporting director and former Die Schwaben midfielder spoke openly about his apprehension regarding just how much social progress could be kick-started in Qatar in the wake of their hosting the beautiful game on their soil.
FIFA claims that “significant progress has been achieved in a very short time in Qatar.”
But Thomas Hitzlsperger does not think Qatar’s human rights record, attitudes towards homosexuality and gender equality will improve after it hosts the 2022 World Cup next year. pic.twitter.com/ce8nTVoYyU
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) November 16, 2021
His outspoken words come in the wake of FIFA’s claims that Qatar has progressed a significant amount in rapid order after being announced as tournament host.
Hitzlsperger, however, is hardly convinced (quotes from Eurosport citing Kicker);
“My hope for improvement is limited. It won’t be difficult for FIFA to broadcast four weeks’ worth of pictures that give the impression of progress without anything fundamentally changing in the country in the coming years.
I don’t believe in sustainable improvement through the World Cup alone. Russia also didn’t come more democratic and liberal after the last World Cup.”
Motivations behind Qatar nomination as host nation questioned
“Let’s just be brutally honest about it: the Arab world is an important market with powerful sponsors. They made the best bid, so we’ll play there.”
The notion that money has become the prime-motivating factor in football at countless levels of the game, certainly from a corporate and ownership standpoint, is evident and glaring.
From Newcastle going from pauper status to overnight becoming the richest club in the world after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund led a consortium takeover, to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Paris Saint-Germain riding near-limitless financial backing to become some of the biggest clubs on the planet in short order is all thanks to billionaire investment and interests; much of which is tied to the increasing influence in the game that comes from the Middle East.
That in of itself is hardly an issue. Football is for everyone; truly a global game. The growth of the sport in parts of the world such as the Middle East and Africa is genuinely amazing, but host nations for the games biggest showcase being chosen for economic reasons while avoiding gargantuan red flags from socio-economic and political sectors are hardly noteworthy.
Qatar is adamant in its stance regarding LGBTQ rights while countless deaths of migrant workers in the country that were involved with building the 2022 infrastructure were never investigated.
If this is the nation that should be hosting the sports flagship tournament – a sport and tournament that should be used to foster equality and progress – then the powers that be have quite a lot to answer for.
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