Human Rights Watch urges FC Bayern Munich to publicly address human rights issues in Qatar; club responds

The director of Human Rights Watch Germany, Wenzel Michalski, raised concerns about Bayern Munich's training camp in Qatar in a January 2018 interview. Migrant workers reportedly face human rights abuses in the construction of stadiums and infrastructure in the country. According to Michalski, Bayern Munich has fallen short of its human rights obligations, “contradict[ing] the values the club claims to champion.” He urged the club to publicly address these concerns and ensure that its not involved, directly or indirectly, in human rights violations. 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited FC Bayern to respond to the concerns, the club's response is available below.  

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Company response
23 January 2018

Response by FC Bayern

Author: FC Bayern

[Note: This is an unofficial translation from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. You can find the original response in German here.]

"We’re seeing a positive development as far as the (current) situation in Doha is concerned. The United Nations Labour Organisation confirmed this in November and officially terminated their investigation into the working and living conditions of guest workers in Qatar. The criticised ‘kafala’ labour system now needs to be phased out gradually. The (German) Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently told me that the situation of workers in Qatar has improved through football, although of course there is room for further improvement. As a representative of the whole football family, FC Bayern plays its part towards ensuring this can be achieved. We are engaged in a global competition with the best European clubs. But our partners in Doha are also aware of our beliefs. We talk about these matters confidentially, and trust continues to grow with every conversation. That is the most important prerequisite for change."

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Article
22 January 2018

Bayern Munich cannot remain silent

Author: Thomas Klein, Deutsche Welle (Germany)

...As a human rights organization, we have nothing against Bayern Munich training or playing in Qatar. But as a member of major national and international associations, such as the German Football Association... and UEFA, the club must make sure that it's not involved in any human rights violations, not even indirectly... They're using buildings and infrastructure where it's very likely that human rights abuses have been committed... Bayern cannot remain silent on that. This is an international obligation for big companies, clubs and organizations... [W]e've been disappointed that the club hasn't commented publicly on this issue. Bayern is a company with statutes and values, and their silence on the issue contradicts the values the club claims to champion. Moreover, it's also incompatible with the values claimed by world sports in general — namely supporting fairness and equal rights, or opposing exploitation and slave labor. All of that exists in Qatar... It's true that some change has taken place, also positive things, but only on construction sites for stadiums that are being built ahead of the 2022 World Cup. But that's only because the whole world is watching these particular construction sites, and criticism has been huge. The working conditions on other construction sites, which are currently off the world's radar, need the same sort of attention...

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