The Qatar 2022 World Cup has been the subject of much controversy since FIFA awarded the tournament to the Gulf state 12 years ago in 2010.
Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers building the seven new stadiums and expanding the only existing one dominated early discourse, with human rights issues in Qatar also a major concern, especially for women and men. people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Some footballers have decided to remain silent on the issues surrounding the nation, suggesting that players should respect Qatari culture. Hugo Lloris is among them, after saying he would refuse to wear a rainbow captain’s armband. However, other footballers have expressed concern over hosting the World Cup in a country with Qatar’s human rights record.
Joshua Kimmich is one of the latter. Speaking to FourFourTwo in the latest issue available to buy, the German midfielder says the players have a responsibility to highlight the issues as they are the most public figures in their country when the World Cup takes place.
“Look, as footballers we have the power and the platform to report these issues,” Kimmich says. “These problems are not new. We knew 12 years ago, when FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar, that these problems existed.
“It’s not like the culture in Qatar changed overnight: people know about working conditions, LGBTQ rights, sustainability, climate and infrastructure. It’s mainly a sports policy issue. .
“So the question is, why did these issues still lead to Qatar being awarded a World Cup? I remember the 2006 World Cup in Germany was an incredible event where everyone celebrated together – your color, your country or your culture no longer mattered, only the power of football. Uniting cultures, understanding them better and exposing them to each other so that they can learn, must be the objective of this World Cup. world.”
Relevantly, Kimmich also says he wants to be among the German leaders in the tournament. Speaking out about the problems during the tournament, outsiders would certainly see him as an important member of the Germany team, especially as he is now 27 and arguably the most indispensable member of his club and his family. National team.
Leading both on and off the pitch is certainly no easy task, but the versatile midfielder and defender definitely looks set to do both.
“I am aware of my role for the team and I want to lead the way. I have more responsibility, which has developed very naturally. Four years ago in Russia we had a very different team, full of world cup 2014. winners and winners of the champions league I could not be a leader in this team, but now I have a champions league winner medal. [from 2020] – and I’m working on the World Cup part.
“I’m now one of the experienced guys – only Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller have more caps than me in this team. It was special to captain the team at Wembley against England in September. I was proud to say that I was responsible for our team’s good performance that night.
“[To lead] It’s a great mix of your own performance, life experiences and personality to want to push forward and take responsibility. Think about the big picture. How are we going to play in this game? In what formation? Who are our adversaries? Even four years ago, as a youngster, I mainly cared about my own performance – the most important thing was me and performing well. Now I have to deliver – it’s a fundamental, non-negotiable duty – and you have to invest in issues elsewhere in the team as well. Be someone the team follows.”
However, on top of all the other issues with Qatar hosting the World Cup, the fact that it’s taking place in the winter makes adapting a bit more difficult.
Indeed, Kimmich admits that the lack of preparation with the national team is difficult, knowing that he will return directly to play for Bayern Munich at the end of the tournament, which will make it even more difficult.
“It’s weird. Knowing in my head that it’s autumn and in a few weeks I’ll be at a World Cup, it’s really confusing, because usually you finish your season and then you have a few weeks to prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the start of the tournament.
“We have almost no preparation, it’s totally different. It affects everything, but we don’t know how yet.”