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Karl-Heinz Rummenigge defends Bayern Munich’s annual Qatar trip

Rummenigge insists that Bayern’s Qatari partners aren’t involved in human rights violations and are actually making strides against it.

Qatari Emir And Angela Merkel Attend Qatar Business And Investment Forum
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 07: Former German football star Karl-Heinz Rummenigge attends the Qatar Germany Business and Investment Forum on September 7, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Germany is Qatar's third biggest trading partner. Qatar has invested in Germany companies including Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank and Siemens.
Qatari Emir And Angela Merkel Attend Qatar Business And Investment Forum BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 07: Former German football star Karl-Heinz Rummenigge attends the Qatar Germany Business and Investment Forum on September 7, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Germany is Qatar’s third biggest trading partner. Qatar has invested in Germany companies including Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank and Siemens.
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Bayern Munich have received a great deal of criticism in the past for their annual winter training trip to the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar. The country has a particularly appalling record of human rights violations, mainly in connection to the migrant workers hired to help with the construction of stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

Bayern’s sponsorship deals with both Qatar Airways and the Hamad International Airport were said to have been put in place in correspondence with the club’s internationalization efforts. However, many have perceived the deals to be nothing more than big-time revenue-generators, made without consideration of the country’s questionable human rights record.

In a recent interview (AZ), club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge defended Bayern’s annual trip to Doha and said that Bayern’s Qatari partners have been in compliance with the human rights laws and have been making strides to eliminate the country’s transgressions:

FC Bayern is one of many German middle-sized companies that cooperate with a partner from Doha. We and other soccer clubs and sports federations also are participating in a dialogue in the Gulf region. We correspond regularly with our partners in Qatar about developments in our societies, including the subject of human rights and the rights of workers.

The human rights organization of the UN, international unions, and non-profit organizations attest today that Qatar is responding to public criticism and has made changes. That includes the positive development of the rights situation for migrant workers and improvements to labor rights in Qatar.

Like the men’s squad, the FC Bayern Frauen are also set to head to Qatar for their winter training camp. The women’s team travelling to Qatar, Rummenigge added, is a fantastic opportunity to bolster women’s athletics in the region and, more specifically, Arabic nations:

In order to promote women’s sports in Arabic societies, FC Bayern organized a training camp in Qatar for its Bundesliga women’s team in January 2018 and was supported through the special engagement of the Qatar Women’s Sport Committee. [There have been] good and visible meetings with female Qatari soccer players and female representatives of Qatar’s society. In 2019, our women’s team’s training camp will also be held in Doha.

Read more about Bayern Munich’s controversial relationship with Qatar here.