Berlin (AFP) - Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning captain Philipp Lahm on Sunday said Qatar should never have been allowed to host the World Cup and vowed to stay away from the tournament.
“Awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake,” Lahm wrote in a column for Die Zeit newspaper. “It doesn’t belong there.”
Qatar has come under sustained fire over its human rights record ahead of the World Cup, including its treatment of foreign workers and its stance on women’s and LGBTQ rights.
Last week, Qatari World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman sparked a storm of criticism by calling homosexuality a “damage in the mind” in a German TV interview.
Fans in stadiums across Germany have called for boycotts of the tournament.
Lahm, 39, who is tournament director of the Euro 2024 finals which will be hosted by Germany, said he would not be travelling to Qatar but would watch the matches on TV.
“Homosexuals are still criminalised, women do not have the same rights as men, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are restricted,” he said.
He also described conditions for migrants workers as “devastating”.
“This atmosphere does not interest me as a football fan,” he said.
Lahm said FIFA had “damaged football” by awarding the tournament to Qatar.
“Football is not a popular sport in Qatar, and there is practically no chance for girls to play football,” he said.