Human rights violations, corruption, paranoia – there are currently many topics besides sports when it comes to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. In the documentary Human Rights Title Dreams, national coach Hansi Flick offers exclusive insights into the extraordinary preparations for the German national team championship.
Bundesliga professionals usually get a few days off after a long season. But this year, the Nationals have had to take their holidays off for the time being. Because immediately after the DFB Final, national coach Hansi Flick invited his 26-man squad to a small training camp in Marbella – a rather unusual measure, almost six months before the start of the World Cup (21.11.-18.12.2022). But given the short preparation time in November, Flick wants to use every opportunity to prepare his team for the title.
National coach Hansi Flick exercises balance
From a sporting point of view, he appears to be doing well so far: eight wins and three draws is the perfect record since he took office last August. But due to the difficult conditions on-site in Qatar, the situation on the pitch does not have to be just the right one. Together with his team, Hansi Flick tries to manage the balance between proper attitude and athletic success.
The human rights situation in Qatar has so far pushed sport to the background
Because this World Cup is truly unforgettable. On the one hand, because it happens in winter for the first time, on the other hand, because the human rights situation has so far faded into the background when looking at the World Cup, sports, football. Criticism of host country Qatar and FIFA for awarding the World Cup there in the first place is very severe. Qatar’s demands to withdraw from the World Cup or boycott the tournament early have been rejected.
Hansi Flick calls Amnesty International for human rights
That is why the German national team now wants to focus on the success of the World Cup from a sporting point of view, without neglecting the environment. For this, Hansi Flick took an unusual path and invited Katja Müller-Wahlbusch from AI to the national team. In the spring I informed the players and coaches of the situation in Qatar.
Because although there are sometimes improved working conditions at the direct World Cup construction sites, passports will continue to be confiscated and wages will not be paid. The fact that players know these conditions is a “very important first step,” explains Muller-Fahlbush. Hansi Flick is also happy with this exchange. “First of all, I think it is important that we have such events, because of course we have a big task ahead of us in Qatar. Not only in terms of football, but of course also the brilliance that every player has. Do it well,” said the national coach. Fair, it’s not that easy for us either.”
Flick’s attention to detail should help Germany win the World Cup
Of course, the entire team is aware of this radiance and media attention. However, the World Cup in Qatar requires not only unusual approaches from a social point of view. You’re not used to a mid-season championship in the Bundesliga. There are only 10 days in November between the last Bundesliga match and the first World Cup appearance. Much tact is required. Who needs rejuvenation and who needs more fitness? Important questions that Flick is happy to answer specialists. “My team around me is very important to me. Everyone has a responsibility, if they see something, to get involved and say we can do better,” says team player Flick, referring to Pascal Bauer, data analyst for the national team, or Mats Potgerett. With Dane Buttgereit, Flick hired an assistant coach for standard positions for the first time.
The new DFB Academy should be the “machine room” of the national team.
With technical support, Patgret is working on the perfect free kick at the new DFB Academy in Frankfurt. More than half a dozen record goals in the first few games under Flick speak for themselves. And that’s just one example of the new level of detail under the leadership of national coach Flick, who designed the concepts for the academy himself when he was the FA’s sporting director.
The academy won’t officially open until the end of June, but work is already underway there for the title. “We are the engine room of the national teams. We collect problems and questions from the teams. They are assembled in the DFB Academy, then our machine room starts looking for solutions. We are not a theoretical entity like the university. We are looking for practical solutions”, explained the head of the academy, Tobias Haupt. These solutions should revive the German team after the poor performance in the World Cup Russia 2018 and the European Championship last year.
With solitude to succeed? The German Quarter at the northern tip of Qatar
Hope depends not only on technical tricks, the happiness factor during the World Cup must also be true. In memory of the much raised Campo Bahia spirit during the quarter-finals during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Flick chose a secluded residence. During the World Cup, the German national team will live in a luxury resort at the northern tip of the principality, far from everything. Flick basically justified this decision by the optimal training conditions at the nearby stadium. “We were impressed with that on the coaching staff,” says Flickt. “You have it all for yourself there.” “No one can look there. Therefore: solitude is good for us.”
Isolation alone does not bring success. The World Cup in Russia showed it. At that time, the headquarters of the German team was in Watotenki. In the gloom outside the gates of Moscow, nothing was created at the 2018 World Cup, not even a ghost. The result was the first preliminary round in German World Cup history. After this disgrace, the desire to compensate and pressure in Qatar was too great for the entire German team.
The rapid development of Qatar in recent years
And Flick, who has held the position since last August, has to endure that pressure in an unforgettable World Cup in an unforgettable host country. Qatar has developed rapidly since it won the 2010 World Cup. The country has grown, and the population has doubled in twelve years. In addition, the principality is trying to open up in order to approach Western standards. But Qatar also faces self-imposed restrictions. Homosexuality, for example, is forbidden. When asked if gay guests are welcome at the World Cup, the prince answered diplomatically during his visit to Germany in May:
Exactly what that means remains open. Many fans are unsure if they will travel to Qatar because of this statement. What happens when a fan misbehaves? Qatar has no rule of law and it is difficult to find lawyers who are not part of the system. In addition, a trip to the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf can be very expensive. Flights and hotels are expensive and can become scarce. However, the state, which is only half the size of Hesse, expects about two million people to attend the tournament. FIFA promises full stadiums and reports high demand for tickets.
Winter World Cup mood?
And what will the majority of fans who cannot or do not want to travel to Qatar be like to watch the World Cup? This is still hard to imagine at the moment. In any case, there should not be a lively atmosphere during public viewing at the Christmas markets with large screens. But maybe the national team can inspire people anyway. With heart and attitude. Exactly what national coach Hansi Flick is asking. “FIFA, DFB, UEFA, all clubs have their values, which they always communicate in a nice and eye-catching way, and I think it is important that we live and act accordingly.”
The German national team will have to prove as of November 23 whether Hansi Flick can manage that balance with his team. Then Germany starts the tournament against Japan. The discussions about the already memorable World Cup will certainly not end until then.