Status: 11/18/2022 5:29 p.m

    FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino remain silent on many sensitive issues. DFB boss Bernd Neuendorf called on the world association to take a position, including for women in Iran.

    By Marcus Bark, Al Ruwais

    Infantino will speak on Saturday (19.11.2022). FIFA invited to a media conference on the day before the start of the “best World Cup of all time”, as the Swiss has been cheering in anticipatory euphoria for years. It remains to be seen whether the president of the world association will also say something about the content of pressing issues.

    FIFA is stubbornly silent, for example on the compensation fund demanded by several football associations and organizations for the families of workers who died on construction sites in Qatar. Nothing of substance has been heard about Russia either, which despite the murderous war against Ukraine is still a member of FIFA. About the violent suppression of the protests in Iran and the continued ban on women watching football games in the stadium – nothing.

    For weeks, people in Iran have been protesting against the mullahs’ regime. Iranian athletes are showing solidarity with the protests. Also at the World Cup?

    Associations should remain silent

    Instead, FIFA recently sent a letter to the 32 associations participating in the World Cup to look forward to football in Qatar and to do the same as the world governing body on political issues and remain silent.

    The German Football Association (DFB) – like nine other associations – had already announced that it would not be banned. Bernd Neuendorf emphasized this announcement on Friday. The President of the DFB demanded: “These very, very courageous women in Iran deserve every attention and support. The Iranian soccer team (the men’s, ed.) has also made a point. It has carried out various actions that make it clear that it is distancing itself from the regime .” FIFA should therefore also “position itself” for something, especially since it spoke out against something a few days ago.

    While France is backing down, the DFB and other federations want to continue wearing the “One Love” captain’s armband at the World Cup in Qatar – even if FIFA would ban it.

    It was the ban on the inscription “Human rights for all”, which the Danish national team wanted to print on their training shirts. The 61-year-old Neuendorf does not see the “political message” with which FIFA rejected the request: “We’re not talking about a political decision that you can make one way or the other. This is about human rights, and they apply and are universally valid around the world.” Everyone should be able to rally behind the values, especially FIFA, which even has the protection of human rights “written on the flag” in its statutes.

    As an outward sign of standing up for human rights, the DFB announced weeks ago that goalkeeper Manuel, like other captains, would wear armbands with the inscription “One Love”. FIFA has so far left open whether it will also reject this as a political message and sanction the associations accordingly. A fine he would “accept”said Neuendorf, who sees the bandage as an all-encompassing message against any form of discrimination and for rights, such as for queer people. “The bandage starts with what Iran is about. It therefore also means solidarity with Iranian women.”

    DFB President criticizes FIFA President Gianni Infantino

    On Wednesday (November 16, 2022), shortly before Germany’s friendly in Oman kicked off, the DFB announced that it would refuse to support Infantino in the upcoming re-election in March 2023. That will not prevent the coronation again. Outside of the European association UEFA, whose members are not united against the 52-year-old Swiss, Infantino will gain a whopping majority. But the world association now has the strongest individual association in the world against it.

    Bernd Neuendorf, in office since March 2022, did not prove to be the lonely voice in the desert, but he was a clear voice. There, after Al Ruwais on the northern tip of Qatar, the DFB had invited to its first press conference in the host country of the World Cup. In the team quarters, the focus was also briefly on the team, which Neuendorf is convinced will win the opening game against Japan on Wednesday (November 23, 2022). Off the field, the players would also have a “good sensorium for the situation outside of football” developed.

    As evidence, the DFB announced that it would support an SOS Children’s Village in Nepal with one million euros over the next five years. The money will come “straight from the players”, according to Neuendorf. The decision was made by mutual agreement for Nepal, because that’s where it’s at “people are exposed to this poverty and migration pressure”. Around 400,000 Nepalese are said to be working in Qatar at the moment. The government of the Central Asian state says that 1,700 workers have lost their lives in Qatar since construction work for the World Cup began. Infantino’s FIFA claims there have been a total of three deaths on the stadium construction sites.

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