The ITF, which has worked for three years to expose conditions at Qatar Airways, has warned the club that it is associating with an arm of the same Qatari state that sanctions the airline’s behavior and the injustices heaped on the thousands of non-Qataris struggling to build facilities in the country ahead of the World Cup.
Writing to the club’s CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the ITF general secretary, Stephen Cotton, stated:
On behalf of the 4.8 million members of the 689 trade unions in 148 countries, including Germany, that are affiliated to our organisation, I would like express our concern over the news that Bayern Munich has accepted sponsorship from Doha Airport.
Put simply, we would like you to reconsider this decision. Doha Airport is an arm of the Qatari state and of its national airline, Qatar Airways. Both are mired in well-deserved controversy: the airline for its treatment of staff, and Qatar for the means by which it allegedly secured the world cup, as well as for the well-documented suffering of the thousands of migrant labourers building the infrastructure to support it.
You will no doubt be aware of the continuing debate around Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of FC Barcelona, and how it has divided the club’s fans, many of whom, like us, know that the airline is an organisation that shuns the values that the club is constitutionally committed to uphold.
The results of that division are known: the sponsorship negotiations embarrassingly deadlocked, the kit manufacturer, Nike, frustratedly complaining over the resulting stop to production. We believe that this deal with your club is an attempt by the airline and by Qatar to find an alternative vehicle to showcase their advertising, irrespective of how the resulting protests and public disdain will affect their new partner, Bayern Munich.
In the light of this, and the work done by our organisation, along with the International Trade Union Confederation and many others, to expose conditions in Qatar and in the airline that is intimately connected to Doha Airport, we hope that you will re-examine your partnership with a state and its institutions which so many football fans find objectionable and contrary to all ideas of fair play and decent treatment of human beings.
Note to editors
For more on FC Barcelona and its sponsorship by Qatar Airways see http://www.itfglobal.org/en/news-events/news/2015/october/protesters-ask-fc-barca-to-rediscover-its-soul/
For more on the ITF and Qatar Airways see http://www.itfglobal.org/en/news-events/press-releases/2015/august/first-victory-for-staff-rights-at-qatar-airways/