Reduction in public viewing Bonn pubs boycott World Cup in Qatar

Bonn · The World Cup in Qatar is hugely controversial. Time and again, human rights activists have called for a boycott. Now, some pubs and clubs in Bonn have decided not to offer public viewing. Their decision has been met with much approval.

 Tobias Epping (foreground) will not be showing the World Cup games this time around.

Tobias Epping (foreground) will not be showing the World Cup games this time around.

Foto: Meike Böschemeyer

Balmy summer nights, starry skies, full beer gardens - the current summer was virtually predestined for public viewing on Clemens-August-Strasse or at the Rhine. The only thing missing was a suitable event. 2022 is an even year, one in which the World Cup is supposed to take place - and it willI, but only in the fall and winter. The "Winter World Cup" will be held from November 20 to December 18 in Qatar.

As of now, public viewing events are allowed despite Covid, but already some Bonn pubs are giving the World Cup a pass. “Simply no one can justify awarding this World Cup to Qatar," says Tobi Epping, owner of the pubs "Wache" and the "Blow Up". "Other World Cups have been fiddled with, too, but here we're talking about enslavement of workers and thousands of deaths, among other things."

One article in the “Guardian” in 2021 reported that there were nearly 6,000 migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka who lost their lives since Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010 - in some cases under mysterious circumstances. The number of unreported cases is probably much higher. Human rights activists have criticized the working conditions and called on Fifa to re-award the contract. The world governing body repeatedly promised reforms and improvements, which human rights activists questioned. There were repeated calls for boycotts.

The German Football Association (DFB) was also urged by fans, politicians and celebrities not to send a delegation to Qatar. With moderate success. "We are just before the start of the tournament, and to declare a boycott now would not be right from my point of view," said DFB President Bernd Neuendorf. The man from Bonn wanted to approach the players, seek dialogue. And: "Now we have to try, even if it's only small steps, to work towards improving the situation in Qatar in terms of human rights and sustainability.”

No World Cup games in the “Wache”

Epping also wants to contribute towards this goal. The pub owner will boycott the World Cup. Current games will not be shown in the "Wache" or in the "Blow Up". "It is the neglect of human rights, but also the ecological footprint. How can you have a World Cup right now in stadiums that have to be cooled down?" says Epping. "It's complete nonsense.”

In doing so, he and his cohorts are losing out on five-figure sales that public viewing would have definitely brought in. Depending on the success of the German team, sales would have increased even more. A proud sum, especially after the lockdown and with the current rising energy prices. "Corona was nerve-wracking. But unlike a lot of small artists, we had funds flowing in, and we got through the pandemic reasonably well," Epping says. "Energy prices are more of a concern for us. Also because one notices that some patrons have to save money and prefer to play their round of Doppelkopf (card game) at home.”

"Namenlos " pub will also not show any games

His customers were involved in the decision. Epping let people vote on social media whether he should boycott the World Cup. 97 percent of the respondents agreed to the boycott - decision made. "That didn't surprise me at all. After all, the grievances can't be overlooked," Epping said. "I have no idea if our boycott will do any good. But every ‘no’ is a start. Maybe my gesture will get the ball rolling." It already has. Epping is getting a lot of encouragement, and not just from customers.

Other pubs and clubs in Bonn want to join the boycott. The "Namenlos" pub also plans to not show World Cup games. "Of course, soccer is lucrative for us. It's not for nothing that we show Champions League and Bundesliga," says pub proprietor Stefan Kievernagel. "You just have to look at how many people have died in Qatar, how many are suffering. This World Cup is certainly not worth supporting." But he also does not want to condemn pubs that show the World Cup. "It's clear that people want to have a little (financial) cushion after this difficult time. I can absolutely understand that.”

One of them is Ragnar Fleischmann. The proprietor of "Nyx" and "The Pub" will show the World Cup games. "I see it very pragmatically," Fleischmann says. "There will be a great many people who say they will boycott the World Cup, only to watch it secretly within their own four walls with friends." Other pubs in Bonn have also decided to show the World Cup games. Epping won't be giving up soccer altogether, either. "That's where I'll get my customers on board again," says the Bonn pub owner. "Let them decide which old World Cup games we show on those days. I think a lot will come down to the success of the finals." It remains to be seen as to how successful the German team will be in Qatar - but it won’t matter for all soccer fans.

(Orig text: Simon Bartsch / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)

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