Germany’s decision not to back FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s re-election next year was a result of the soccer’ body’s handling of human rights issues at World Cup hosts Qatar and its failure to take a stand on Iran, German Football Association (DFB) chief Bernd Neuendorf said on Friday.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to be picked by FIFA to host the World Cup, but the small energy-rich nation has come under intense pressure for its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws.
Neuendorf said the DFB’s decision not to back Infantino, set to be re-elected for a third term in March, was because the German federation had been “irritated” by a number of issues related to the World Cup. “We indeed took this decision (not to back Infantino). It was not easy but at the end of the day that was the decision because we believe we have to make a statement,” Neuendorf told a news conference.
“Infantino already has the support of continental confederations and his re-election is very likely. But after his letter two weeks ago that human rights should not play a role and we should focus on the football we were considerably irritated,” Neuendorf added.
“There were other things as well that irritated us with FIFA. The ban of the slogan for the Danish shirt because ‘human rights for all was written on it.” FIFA last week had rejected a request by the Danish Football Association to train at the World Cup in shirts with the words “human rights for all” on them.
“Such a slogan is not a political decision you can chose to take. It is about human rights and they are universal and binding around the world,” Neuendorf said. He said while FIFA was quick to ban the Danish request it remained silent amid ongoing protests in Iran. Several Iranian sportsmen and women have used international competition to indicate their support for the protests that have rocked the country since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police in September.
“The very courageous women in Iran deserve our support,” Neuendorf said. “The Iran team has made their statements which made it clear they distance themselves from the regime. That’s a good signal. FIFA did not position itself. It positioned itself in the Denmark case but not Iran. Don’t just ban the Denmark shirt. Take a position on Iran,” he said
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