Germany and Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka has slammed Qatar’s World Cup ambassador’s homophobic comments, saying they were “oppressive” and “from another millennium”.
Khalid Salman, a former Qatar international, said in a documentary on German public broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday that he had a problem with children seeing gay men and women because they might learn something they shouldn’t, calling homosexuality a “damage to the spirit”. and “spiritual harm”.
Goretzka, speaking after Bayern’s 6-1 Bundesliga win over Werder Bremen on Tuesday night, said: “That’s not what we want to defend and what we exemplify. It’s absolutely unacceptable to do such a thing. statement.”
The 27-year-old has often stood out as one of the most outspoken and socially conscious players in the Bundesliga, launching the ‘We Kick Corona’ campaign with teammate Joshua Kimmich during the pandemic, for example.
Speaking in the same ZDF documentary, Goretzka said he would have “preferred to go to a World Cup at the peak of my career in another country. The fact that the human rights situation in a country was not part of the criteria for candidacy was a big mistake, and it angers us.”
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic also expressed his displeasure with Salman’s comments, but he refused to be drawn into a debate over the club’s long-term sponsorship ties with Qatar Airways.
“It’s a statement from an individual,” Salihamidzic said. “It’s clear that we have to talk about it. But above all, it’s an individual, and that’s unacceptable.”
Die-hard Bayern fans, who have long been critical of the club’s business relationship with Qatar, also held up banners to protest Salman’s comments during Tuesday’s win.
Qatar World Cup ambassador: homosexuality is ‘haram’
Salman’s comments came just days after Qatar’s foreign minister insisted everyone would be welcome to attend the World Cup in his country, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.
But the official World Cup ambassador’s labeling of homosexuality as “haram” – meaning a sin in the Muslim-majority emirate – set a markedly different tone.
“I’m not a strict Muslim,” he said. “But why is it haram? It is a spiritual evil.”
Excerpts from the documentary by German sports journalist and TV presenter Jochen Breyer, entitled “Geheimsache Katar” or “Secret Affairs Qatar”, were previewed by ZDF in its Monday news bulletin.
In the release footage, the media officer of the Qatar World Cup organizing committee, who accompanied the ZDF team during their video recording, ended an interview just after Salman called homosexuality of “harm in the spirit”.
In another excerpt, Salman said: “During the World Cup, a lot of things will come into the country. Let’s talk about gays, for example. The most important thing is that everyone agrees to come here. But they will have to accept our rules.”
Homosexual acts in public are prohibited in Qatar and can be punished by up to seven years in prison. The captains of several European countries participating in the World Cup, including Germany, France and England, plan to wear rainbow-colored armbands during their matches as part of a anti-discrimination campaign.
Qatar has also been criticized for its human rights record and its treatment of foreign workers. Fans in stadiums across Germany held up banners over the weekend calling for a boycott of the event, including on television.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has said she will attend the World Cup after being given a “safety guarantee” for LGBTQ fans by the Prime Minister of Qatar. Faeser previously said Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup was ‘very tricky’ from Berlin’s perspective, prompting Doha to summon the German ambassador amid accusations of ‘double standards’ two measures” and “racism”.
FIFA, which awards the World Cup tournament to different countries every four years, stressed that all fans are welcome at the World Cup in Qatar, as is the Qatar Organizing Committee. The Gulf state’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, also said recently that respect for “our culture” was expected.
Edited by Matt Ford