After the S&D's criticism last December concerning FC Bayern Munich holding a winter football training camp in Qatar, chairman and former famous football player Karl-Heinz Rummenigge felt compelled to give a reaction - but none that would point to more responsibility. Rummenigge said holding the training camp should not be mixed with politics and that he defended the decision to go to Qatar despite the regime's serious breaches of human rights.
S&D MEP Norbert Neuser, coordinator of the development committee (DEVE) strongly opposes this stance:
"Football is of international importance. Football opens the door to hearts and it connects people all over the world. Because of its extraordinary prestige, football also has responsibility beyond a convenient training place."
Elena Valenciano, S&D MEP and chair of the subcommittee of human rights (DROI), added:
"Human rights go beyond politics; as a universal value and obligation it is us up to all of us to defend and protect them. Sports, and specifically internationally renowned football clubs, can also play an invaluable role in promoting human rights situations in many countries."
Marc Tarabella, S&D MEP and co-president of the Sport Intergroup in the European Parliament, said:
"Hundreds of thousands of workers are paid as little as $50 per week, as they build the $260 billion infrastructure package - stadiums, hotels, apartments, public transport systems and roads for the World Cup football tournament in Qatar.
"For the record, more than 1,200 people have died on the construction sites of the World Cup's stadiums, and more than 4000 workers will die before the World Cup tournament opens in 2022 if the current rate of deaths continues, according to estimates. The attribution of this competition is already an ethical defeat and an insult.
"The organisation of a training camp by FC Bayern Munich in Qatar is a negative signal: respect of human rights should be a condition for this kind of event.
"It's time for football authorities to focus more on ethical transparency and good governance."