German interior minister Nancy Faeser will attend her team’s opening match at the World Cup in Qatar, she confirmed during a visit to Doha, where she was received by Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.
Faeser, who is also Germany’s minister for sport, was visiting the Qatari capital on Tuesday in the shadow of a recent diplomatic spat between the two countries over alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ community.
In a recent television interview, Faeser questioned whether Qatar should stage the tournament, prompting the foreign ministry to summon the German ambassador.
But in Doha, Faeser said that her recent remarks regarding Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 have been misinterpreted.
Faeser said she appreciates Doha’s preparations to host the tournament, and the comprehensive and sustainable labour reforms it has implemented, state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
“It is important to support the country of Qatar in groundbreaking reforms,” Faeser said on Tuesday at the end of the two-day visit to the country.
“That is why I have decided to continue to be part of the process and travel to the first match of the German team.”
Faeser said Sheikh Khalid had offered her a “guarantee of safety” for LGBTQ fans during the tournament.
“All people, no matter where they come from, who they love and what they believe in, must be safe at the World Cup,” she said.
According to QNA, Sheikh Khalid reiterated that Qatar “welcomes all visitors during the World Cup”, as it sees the tournament as an opportunity for the world to learn about Qatar’s culture and values.”
He also stressed his confidence in the visitors’ understanding and respect for the traditions and values of Qatari society.
Sheikh Khalid also emphasised the need to address “misinformation about the state of labour and human rights in Qatar”, highlighting the labour reforms Doha has undertaken – steps commended by various human rights groups and United Nations bodies.
The reforms have included modifying labour laws and practices, abolishing exit visas, allowing employees to change their employer without prior authorisation, setting a minimum wage for workers, as well as establishing a fund to support workers and their rights.
Germany would “continue to support reforms in Qatar after the World Cup to further improve the lives of migrant workers and the human rights situation”, Faeser said.
Germany will play Japan in their opening match of the tournament on November 23.
[Translation: HE the prime minister and minister of the interior receives Germany’s minister of the interior]