Unpacking Germany’s crusade against Qatar 2022 (Part 1)
A three-part deep dive into why the host nation of the FIFA World Cup is in the crosshairs of an Islamophobia-fuelled and disingenuous German smear campaign.
Nowhere has the petty jealousy and thinly veiled racial superiority complex of an aggrieved people who in their incorrigible hubris shockingly think of themselves as not only historically rehabilitated, but progressive, been so visible than in Germany in the context of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Ever since the Gulf state and richest country on earth was awarded the hosting rights in 2010 by the world governing body of a global sport that most football-loving white Germans to this day believe Europeans should have a tightly regulated monopoly on, the sheer volume, both in quantity and sound intensity, of criticism coming from Germany has been revealing of its true agenda.
It is not sympathy for exploited South Asian migrant workers or genuine concern for LGBTQ+ freedoms that drives these colonial criticisms by white people who do not know the difference between Bangladesh and Pakistan and, until recently, couldn’t tell apart Dubai from Doha, but antipathy towards Arabs for having had the gall to successfully contest European hegemony and misdirected self-loathing for having lost their historic position of privilege in yet another realm of traditional Western dominance, namely the staging of global sporting events.
What we have been witnessing in Germany is nothing more than a liberal whitelash to the steady advancement of the Global South towards parity with the European colonizer. And that it is something as comparatively banal as football that has germinated a toxic brew of liberal Islamophobia and traditional German entitlement says a lot about the misguided priorities of white people in my country.
Purism or racism?
To provide some context for understanding the racist German mind: multicultural Germany is not like, let’s say, multicultural Britain, whether in the socio-political arena or in football stadiums: while an Indian prime minister, a Black foreign secretary, an Indian home secretary and a Pakistani mayor of London are the new normal on the other side of the English Channel, no Turk (the largest “non-European” ethnic minority in the country) will ever manage to achieve that level of social mobility in Germany where spaces of power and privilege are strategically populated and tightly guarded solely by white people, and become mayor of Berlin (the largest Turkish city outside of Türkiye) or let alone Chancellor of the entire country.
And while the English Premier League is widely regarded as the best football league in the world, no doubt in part thanks to the normalcy of foreign ownership within the league where an overwhelming number of the 20 clubs that make up the highest tier of English football this season are owned by financially powerful individuals and entities from abroad, be they American or Chinese, Middle Eastern or Thai, Germany’s highest league, the Bundesliga, under the guise of football purism and financial fair play, still refuses to open itself up for foreign, non-European investment and ownership.
Is it any surprise then that the Bundesliga remains a mediocre affair at best and has already been overtaken by Spain’s La Liga in global reach, popularity, and quality of the game? In Germany, the line between purism and racism seems to be a thin one.
While Germans like to portray themselves as the sole guardians of financial fair play, priding themselves on their football league’s so-called “50+1 rule” which states that a club must majority-own its association team, they conveniently gloss over the open secret that this regulatory clause, designed to ensure that investors cannot have a voting majority in the companies that have a controlling interest in football clubs by way of stipulating that club members must own 50% of the votes + 1 vote, is routinely (and legally) bypassed by investor-owned clubs.
FC Wolfsburg (owned by Volkswagen, Germany’s largest carmaker), Bayer 04 Leverkusen (owned by Bayer, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies), and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (owned by German tech billionaire Dietmar Hopp, the founder of software giant SAP) all have a controlling stake in their respective clubs, despite 50+1 and made possible by an exception in favor of individuals or entities who have substantially funded a club for a continuous period of 20 years.
Yet instead of getting their own house in order first, it is clubs like Qatari-owned Paris Saint Germain and Abu-Dhabi-owned Manchester City that relentlessly draw the hypocritical ire of German football functionaries, fans, and pundits. Undisguised jealousy (of others staking their rightful claim and, in the case of Qatar, having more resources to do so) coupled with normalized anti-Arab racism: that might explain why Germans have been going after Qatar since day one.
Germany’s Napoleon complex
The white German football purist lashing out at Qatar’s rise to relevance suffers from a perennial inferiority complex that is hauntingly similar to the one German statesman Bernhard von Bülow (who would later become Reichschancellor) was afflicted by when in 1897 during a parliamentary debate in the Reichstag he proclaimed his infamous demand for a “Platz an der Sonne” (translation: place under the sun) for the German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Left out in the cold in Europe’s colonial Scramble for Africa, Africans would soon pay a dire price for the feelings of inadequacy of a pale-faced people on another continent and their coping mechanism of violent catch-up megalomania in search of Germany’s “rightful” place under the imperial sun. Bülow’s statement is widely regarded as a metaphor for the German people’s craving of world domination and would find its barbaric climax in the colonial genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples of present-day Namibia and a few decades later in the Holocaust of the European Jew.
In other words: Germans have long suffered from a Napoleon complex, or “small-man syndrome”, which Wikipedia defines as “a syndrome normally attributed to people of small stature” which is “characterized by overly-aggressive or domineering social behavior” and which “carries the implication that such behavior is compensatory for the subject's physical or social shortcomings.”
And nowhere, apart from Germany’s “overly-aggressive” and “domineering” engagement in today’s war in Ukraine, is this small-man syndrome currently more evident than in the liberal white supremacist country’s sustained attacks on Qatar for hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East by perverting the legitimate issues of human rights to suit the lost cause of upholding German-led European hegemony.
Remember that as early as 2015, Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, at the time Qatar’s foreign minister, was prompted to say: “It is very difficult for some to digest that an Arab Islamic country has this tournament, as if this right can't be for an Arab state. I believe it is because of prejudice and racism that we have this bashing campaign against Qatar”, a suspicion that was recently elaborated on by the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, when he called out the “double standards” of “unprecedented criticism no other host country has faced.”
Pot, meet kettle!
Germany has been at the forefront of Western anti-Qatar bullying, all too often lacking the moral credibility to pull off the dangerous task of defaming others: Theo Zwanziger, former head of Germany’s football federation, once infamously called Qatar a “cancerous ulcer of world football” for alleged corruption surrounding the awarding of the hosting rights. Ironically, he himself was investigated by a German court for tax evasion and tried by a Swiss court for alleged fraud, money- laundering, and embezzlement.
Furthermore, Germans conveniently sweep under the rug that the process of awarding the hosting rights to their own country which staged the World Cup in 2006 was also mired in allegations of corruption. Successfully projecting moral superiority only works when you can not only talk the talk but also walk the walk.
Staying with proverbial idioms: the pot calling the kettle black has always been the modus operandi of choice for Westerners in their dealings with the rest of the world, whether it is the US demanding women's rights in Iran while criminalizing abortion at home or the EU’s foreign policy chief referring to the world outside Fortress Europe as a “jungle” while describing his own fascism- riddled, war-hungry and immigrant-loathing continent that has dragged the world into not one, but two world wars in a single century and boasts a half a millennium-long history of racist murder and mayhem throughout the globe as a “garden.”
Or, in the case of Qatar: self-righteous Germans suffering from a liberal version of what the US sociologist Michael Kimmel in his book “Angry White Men” called “aggrieved entitlement” and who have been engaging in an overkill of unbridled antagonism against a Gulf nation most Germans to this day will not be able to locate on a map of the Middle East, simply for its audacity to host a global sports event.