The giant banners are now a familiar sight at German Bundesliga games.
Unfurled by fans, and seen by millions watching on TV, “Boycott Qatar 2022” has become a rallying cry for clubs, supporters and players alike who oppose this month’s World Cup and want to highlight human rights and environmental concerns in the host nation.
“The closer the World Cup gets, the more intense the message is getting,” explained Stefan Schirmer from the Boycott Qatar campaign.
“We have the impression that since the last two or three months, the momentum is gaining, it’s going up,” Schirmer, who plays football for an amateur club in Mainz, told Euronews.
Schirmer is involved with other volunteers in the campaign to keep public attention on the controversial decision to award the World Cup to Qatar. Recently, the US Justice Department alleged Qatar was involved in bribing FIFA delegates for votes, something Doha and FIFA strongly deny.
The campaign also seeks to further publicise concerns over the rights of women, the LGBT community and migrant workers, democracy and the environmental impact of hosting a tournament in air-conditioned stadiums.
Philipp Lahm, the former German player who captained his country to the World Cup title in Brazil eight years ago, said recently that he won’t be going to Qatar as part of the official delegation or as a fan.
“Human rights should play an important role in awarding tournaments. If a country that does poorly in that area gets the award (of hosting), then you have to think about what criteria the decision was based on,” Lahm told the German Press Agency dpa.
It comes just before the 32-team tournament kicks off on 20 November.
“FIFA and Qatar care because it hurts the image they want to create in public. They want the World Cup to be a merry football festival and everything is nice. But they see that in more and more countries, more and more people are speaking out loud against this World Cup,” said Boycott Qatar 2022‘s Stefan Schirmer.