Joshua Kimmich says players at World Cup 2022 have the power to point out the issues at Qatar

Joshua Kimmich
(Image credit: PA)

The Qatar World Cup 2022 has caused plenty of controversy ever since FIFA awarded the Gulf state the tournament 12 years ago, in 2010. 

The abuse and exploitation of migrant workers building the seven new stadiums, and expanding the only existing one, dominated early discourse, with human rights issues in Qatar also a primary subject of concern, especially for women and people who identify as LGBTQ+. 

Some footballers have decided to stay quiet about the issues surrounding the nation, suggesting players have to respect the Qatari culture. Hugo Lloris is among them, after saying he will refuse to wear a rainbow captains armband. However, there are other footballers who have expressed their concerns with the World Cup being hosted in a nation with Qatar's human rights record. 

Joshua Kimmich is one of the latter. Speaking to FourFourTwo in the latest issue available to buy, the German midfielder states that players have a responsibility to highlight problems, because they're the most-public facing figures for their nations when the World Cup is going on.

"Look, as footballers we have the power and the platform to point out these issues," Kimmich explains. "These problems are nothing new. We knew 12 years ago when FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar that these issues existed. 

"It’s not as if the culture in Qatar has changed overnight: people knew about the working conditions, LGBTQ rights, sustainability, climate and the infrastructure. This is mainly a sports political problem. 

"So the question is, why did those problems still lead to awarding a World Cup to Qatar? I remember the 2006 World Cup in Germany was an unbelievable event where everybody celebrated together – your colour, country or culture no longer mattered, only the power of football. Uniting cultures, better understanding and exposing them to each other so they can learn, must be the goal for this World Cup."

Miroslav Klose of Germany turns away in celebration after scoring his teams third goal during the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Group A match between Germany and Costa Rica at the Stadium Munich on June 9, 2006 in Munich, Germany.

Joshua Kimmich has cited the 2006 World Cup in Germany as a successful one (Image credit: Sandra Behne/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Pertinently, Kimmich also says he wants to be on Germany's leaders at the tournament. In speaking out against issues during the tournament, outsiders would certainly see him as an important member of the Germany squad, especially because now he is 27-years-old and arguably the most indispensable member of both his club and national side. 

Leading on both the pitch and off it is certainly no easy task, but the versatile midfielder-cum-defender definitely seems ready to do both.

"I’m aware of my role for the team and want to lead the way. I have more responsibility, which is something that has developed very naturally. Four years ago in Russia, we had a very different squad, full of 2014 World Cup winners and Champions League winners. I couldn’t be a leader in that team, but now I have a Champions League winner’s medal [from 2020] – and I’m working on the World Cup part. 

"I’m now one of the experienced guys – only Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller have more caps than myself in this squad. It was special to captain the team at Wembley against England in September. I was proud to say I was responsible for our team’s good performance that night. 

Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller is Germany's most-capped player at the 2022 World Cup (Image credit: Getty)

"[To lead] It’s a big mix of your own performance, life experiences and the personality to want to go ahead and take responsibility. To think about the big picture. How are we going to play in this game? In which formation? Who are our opponents? Even four years ago as a youngster, I’d care mainly about my own display – the most important thing was me, and to perform well. Now, I have to deliver – that’s a basic, non-negotiable duty – and you must invest in issues elsewhere in the squad as well. To be someone the team follows."

However, on top of all of the other issues surrounding Qatar hosting the World Cup, the fact that it's taking place in the winter makes adapting that little bit more difficult.

Indeed, Kimmich admits the lack of preparation with the national side is difficult, with the knowledge that he'll be straight back into playing for Bayern Munich at the end of the tournament making it even more of a struggle. 

Joshua Kimmich Bayern

Joshua Kimmich has admitted it's strange that club football resumes immediately after the World Cup (Image credit: PA)

"It’s weird. Knowing in my head that it’s the autumn and in a few weeks I’ll be at a World Cup is really confusing, because usually you finish your season and then have a couple of weeks to prepare, mentally and physically, for the start of the tournament. 

"We have almost no preparation, it’s totally different. It affects everything, but we don’t yet know how."

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