Soccer-mad Germans turning their backs on World Cup

BERLIN (AP) – As usual when the World Cup arrives, Germans wave their national flag with joy and cheer for their team.

Not this time.

Anyone walking through Berlin this week will be hard-pressed to see any signs of World Cup enthusiasm. No flags, no signs, no public viewing events – no sign that the football-mad country’s bid to claim a fifth World Cup is about to begin with a match against Japan in Tuesday.

Qatar’s human rights record and treatment of migrant workers has spoiled the party for many.

“We don’t want to enjoy a World Cup like this,” Bernd Beyer of the Boycott Qatar 2022 project told The Associated Press. “The fans don’t agree with it and say they don’t want anything to do with it.”

There were widespread protests against the competition during Bundesliga and second-tier matches over the past few weekends, with fans holding flags that undermine the human rights situation in Qatar and recent comments by World Cup representative Khalid Salman condemning homosexuality..

The lack of enthusiasm also had a commercial effect. Traders have been involved in the news about the big competitions with gifts related to the German team. Former Germany coach Joachim Löw and his players were seen everywhere promoting various goods and services. This season, the German Sports Retailers Association said that sales of fan literature were down significantly compared to previous World Cup years.

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“So far not half of what is usually sold in stores at major events of this type,” association president Stefan Herzog told the RND newspaper group.

Adidas said demand for Germany’s kit was low and that its biggest seller so far was the Mexico jersey, considered by some to be one of the most stylish shirts worn by all 32 teams. World Cup.

TV sales, which generally go up for major sporting events, are also down, RND reports.

Hundreds of bars across the country are refusing to show World Cup matches.

Steif Krüger, who runs a bar in Berlin, said Friday that he still rejects the entire tournament, even if Germany reaches the final.

“What is happening with the World Cup is very bad,” said Krüger. “People who have been watching football with us also know that we cannot show it and they are happy to support that.”

Dortmund pub Mit Schmackes, 2014 World Cup winner Kevin Grosskreutz, is also not showing the matches.

“We love football and we can also say that we live football. The reasons are clear – that’s why we will refuse to broadcast the World Cup matches in Qatar, even if this brings us losses,” said the book in an Instagram post. to which Grosskreutz responded with three fire emojis to show his approval.

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Qatar has repeatedly pushed back against criticism of its human rights record, insisting the country has improved protections for migrant workers.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said Friday that he would not prevent Scholz from going to the finals if Germany got that far.

“This World Cup is a given, and now it will take place under difficult conditions,” said Hebestreit, referring to plans to abandon fans. “Everyone is free to decide whether they want to follow this event or not – we live in a free country, that’s how it should be.”

Bundesliga teams including Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach have criticized the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar. and they say they will give it little attention on their websites and social media forums. Another team, Hoffenheim, said they would not report on this competition not at all.

“There are a lot of things that have happened and are happening there that are overshadowing the great joy of the sports competition,” Jörg Schmadtke, sporting director of Bundesliga club Wolfsburg, told the Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper last week.

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Schmadtke said he didn’t even know if he would watch the games on TV.

“It’s not as exciting as it has been in years past, when I was looking forward to that kind of competition,” Schmadtke said.

Qatar Holding LLC has a 10.5% stake in car giant Volkswagen, which has Wolfsburg.

Unlike previous festivals, there will be no large public viewing events due to various reasons including the cold weather, problems caused by the coronavirus epidemic, and difficulties in holding many outdoor festivals during the Christmas market.

The traditional “fan miles” festival at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was canceled in September, when the organizing company said it would not be possible this year. Around 9 million fans attended when Germany hosted the tournament in 2006.

German fans aren’t the only ones who seem unimpressed with this year’s World Cup. Belgium’s football association this week abandoned plans to create a fan zone for fans to watch games on big screens indicating a lack of demand, and Paris and other French cities also canceled public viewing parties. In Barcelona, ​​Mayor Ada Colau said she will not “give up public resources or public places to watch the World Cup held under a dictatorship.”

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AP World Cup News: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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