The football stadiums in Qatar have become political arenas. As controversial as the award to the authoritarian state was, as old is the discussion about commercialisation in sport. The World Cup in the desert is now the culmination of a long development, knows historian Walter Iber: "As early as 1934, the major football event in Mussolini-Italy was misused as a propaganda platform for a totalitarian regime." Western countries no longer want to host sporting events because of the environmental impact and high costs. Thus, in recent years, authoritarian states have gained a foothold where human rights, social standards or climate protection play a subordinate role. As long as profit-oriented companies keep the marketing machinery running, the researcher sees little chance of change: "The current system runs like a well-oiled gearbox and is fuelled by the pursuit of money, fame and prestige. In any case, anyone who wants to push through trend-setting reforms will need a lot of staying power."
However, the TV set does not have to remain dark because of this, says ethicist and football fan Thomas Gremsl: "It cannot be that responsibility is now being shifted onto the individual. To make sporting matters secondary by boycotting football does not do it justice. It is up to each individual to decide whether or not to watch the matches. "I will watch selected matches, fully aware of the terrible things that happened in Qatar," says Gremsl. At least he hopes that with the critical reporting around the World Cup, the political situation in Qatar and the corruption problem in FIFA will become more public.