BERLIN (AP) — German soccer club Hoffenheim is skipping this year's World Cup in Qatar.
The club said Thursday it will not give any coverage to the tournament because of the difficulty in providing what it says is the “urgently required analytical commentary contextualizing the sporting events” in the Middle East country.
Hoffenheim has provided photo and text articles primarily focused on its own players at major tournaments, but the club said in a statement that it will “forego this type of reporting” across all of its media outlets for this year’s event.
The Bundesliga club referred to the “dubious circumstances of the award process, the catastrophic conditions on the stadium construction sites, the damaging impact on the climate, and the framework conditions required to hold an event like this in the desert at this unusual time.”
The World Cup, traditionally held in June and July, will start on Nov. 20 and finish on Dec. 18 this year to avoid the country’s extreme heat.
“The main focus, however, is on the human rights violations and discrimination against homosexuals in the autocratic Gulf state,” Hoffenheim said in its statement.
On Monday, the Qatari ambassador to Germany was urged to abolish his country’s penalties for homosexuality during a congress hosted by the German soccer federation.
Federation president Bernd Neuendorf also called on the Qatari government to establish working centers where migrants can go in the event of employer violations, and a compensation fund for the relatives of workers who died or were injured on World Cup construction sites.
“We simply do not want to cover this World Cup in a light-hearted way," Hoffenheim said. "It needs to put clearly into context with an assessment of the surrounding circumstances and a commentary of the latest developments.”
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Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press