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Human Rights Watch criticizes Bayern Munich’s Qatar training camp

FC Bayern Muenchen Doha Training Camp Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

As Bayern Munich steps up preparations for the second half of the season, a new controversy rears its ugly head. Speaking to Deutsche Welle, Wenzel Michalski — German Director of Human Rights Watch — criticized the record champions for their continued association with Qatar, a country alleged to have committed multiple human rights abuses in connection to slave labor.

Here’s what he had to say:

As a human rights organization, we have nothing against Bayern Munich training or playing in Qatar. But as a member of major national and international associations, such as the German Football Association (DFB) and UEFA, the club must make sure that it’s not involved in any human rights violations, not even indirectly.

When asked if Bayern had lived up to its obligations as a role model, Michalski responded:

No. So far, we’ve been disappointed that the club hasn’t commented publicly on this issue. Bayern is a company with statutes and values, and their silence on the issue contradicts the values the club claims to champion. Moreover, it’s also incompatible with the values claimed by world sports in general — namely supporting fairness and equal rights, or opposing exploitation and slave labor. All of that exists in Qatar.

During the offseason, Bayern also signed a sleeve sponsorship deal with Hamad International Airport, Qatar. Andreas Jung, Bayern’s executive board member responsible for sponsorships, marketing, and PR, went to Qatar for a joint announcement with HIA’s CEO Akbar Al Baker. Despite this, the club remained very quiet about the deal on the social media front.

When asked about this association, Wenzel Michalski was quite scathing in his reply:

If you’re sponsored by a country or a business with such a high risk of illegal covert or public activity, then you also carry responsibility and risk. And it would be in the interest of Bayern to ask, for example, how the airport was developed, and then consider whether to proceed with the deal or not. Bayern Munich is hardly a poor club, so I don’t really understand this sponsorship deal.

Read the full interview online here.

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