Germany and Bayern Munich legend Philipp Lahm has announced that he will be boycotting the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.
The Middle Eastern state was controversially awarded the hosting rights of football’s biggest international tournament in 2010. According to The Guardian, in 2021, over 6,500 migrant workers have lost their lives in the Gulf state since they won the right to host the competition.
Lahm, who is a world cup champion himself, has captained his country to victory in the 2014 World Cup. The 38-year-old has taken a moral choice not to attend the tournament later this year. He has questioned why it is being hosted in a country with such a poor human rights record. The legendary defender told German publication Kicker.
“I’m not part of the delegation and I’m not keen on flying there as a fan. I prefer to follow the tournament from home. Human rights should play the biggest role in the awarding of a tournament. If a country is awarded the contract that is one of the worst performers in this regard, you start to think about the criteria used to make the decision”, Lahm said.
“That shouldn’t happen again in the future. Human rights, sustainability, the size of the country, none of that seems to have played a role. As a player, you can’t get around it anymore,” he added.
Lahm also called for other senior international stars to follow in his footsteps.
There have been many controversies surrounding the upcoming football extravaganza, with boycotts discussed among several countries.
However, when England’s coach Gareth Southgate was asked for his thoughts on the issue in March, he questioned what good will come out of this boycotting move.
“I don’t really know what that achieves. It would be a big story, but the tournament would go ahead. The fact, unfortunately, is the biggest issue, which is non-religious and non-cultural, is what happened with the building of the stadiums and there is nothing we can do about that either, sadly,” Southgate told Sky Sports.
“We have known for eight years that this is going to be in Qatar. Is the stance against Qatar as a country? We are intertwined, as we are seeing with Russia, with all sorts of investment in this country,” he added.
“This is complicated. The issues themselves aren’t complicated; all the repercussions of diplomatic relations and dealing with other countries and other organisations are extremely complicated,” Southgate concluded.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to kick off in Qatar on November 21.