Bayern Munich’s Qatar Airways sponsorship came under a lot of scrutiny by fans and media alike, in the days building up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar due to the nation’s questionable human rights situation. Given the criticism, the Bayern board held a roundtable in July 2022 with representatives from Qatar to discuss the human rights issue.
According to the Chairman’s statement given by Dr. Christoph Heusgen (Chair of the Munich Security Conference), the head of the Qatari World Cup committee and the Qatari ambassador in Berlin both presented the measures taken by the Qatari government in recent years to improve the working and living conditions of immigrant workers. With verifications from the ILO that substantial improvements had been made, the Bayern board proceeded with the Qatar Airways sponsorship.
However, the tables have turned and now it is Qatar’s (or Qatar Airways’) turn to criticize Bayern.
Per Sport Bild (as transcribed by @iMiaSanMia), Qatar Airways is unlikely to renew with Bayern under the same financial conditions, where Bayern were paid €25 million per year.
Qatar Airways is unlikely to renew the contract with Bayern under the same financial terms (€25m/yr). The reputation & image of Germany in Qatar suffered after the armband debate & protest of the NT at the World Cup. Bayern could lose out on the money as a result.
This World Cup has been one to forget for several reasons such as Germany’s appalling performance and subsequent exit, several instances of questionable refereeing and the controversies. The armband protest has received opprobrium from all sides — the German media, the Qatari media, the fans and the World Cup organizing committee, but surely Bayern Munich, the club, has nothing to do with it!
If politics is really as big a distraction as the media, pundits and fans have made it out to be, why has it been a part of football all these years? For all those who need the reminder, football is, and has always been political. It is the medium through which people have expressed their opinions for decades. So the German national team is not really at fault for having expressed their dissent. They had neither the intention of challenging, nor disrespecting anyone’s beliefs — all they wished for was to peacefully coexist, albeit with different beliefs. This unfortunately is not the understanding people hold.
As far as the sponsorship is concerned, what worries me is that fans may just regard this a good riddance — neither is it easy to make up for a staggering 25 million a year, nor is it easy to find another sponsorship that could pay the same, without all the issues the Qatar Airways sponsorship was surrounded by. It might be the easiest thing to say, “Bayern Munich is a club big enough to not be worried by a loss in 25 million,” but think about it — if this sponsorship wasn’t really necessary, the club would have, by all means, taken it off the map as soon as all the ethical issues came to light.
What remains is the fact that Bayern will have to find themselves a way of wading through this mess, while still keeping the hopes and dreams of a Champions League alive. And that, will be a difficult process, but the onus lies on the fans to stick around and pray it all ends well.