BERLIN (Dispatches) - A group of Bayern Munich fans are putting pressure on the club to end their controversial Qatari sponsorship deal amid claims of human rights abuses.
Bayern signed a five-year sponsorship deal with state-owned Qatar Airways in 2018 which the German media claim is worth around 20 million euros ($22.5 million) per year to the Bundesliga leaders.
The airline’s logo is on the sleeve of Bayern’s famous red shirts.
However a group of fans wants club president Herbert Hainer and CEO Oliver Kahn to cut ties when the Qatari deal expires in 2023.
“We’ll wash anything clean for money,” was the slogan on a banner which appeared during a recent Bayern home game alongside a cartoon of Hainer and Kahn feeding money into a washing machine.
In the run-up to the club’s annual general meeting on Thursday, disgruntled fans have tried to impose a motion demanding the non-renewal of the deal.
Attempts to get an interim injunction were rejected by a Munich regional court, but the group say their fight goes on.
“We want to obtain preventive measures to avoid a renewal of the contract,” said Michael Ott, a spokesman for the group of fans.
“Qatar is guilty of massive human rights violations and there are heavy suspicions of corruption in sport.
The protestors point to human rights groups, who accuse Qatar of exploiting foreign workers, particularly in the construction of stadiums for the next World Cup, which kicks off in November 2022.
Officials in Qatar reject the claims.
Last week, Nasser al-Khater, the chief executive of the Qatar World Cup hit back, insisting not enough credit has been given for its labour reforms aimed at improving conditions for migrant workers, mostly from South Asia.
“Qatar has been unfairly treated and scrutinized for a number of years,” Khater told media just over a year before the tournament starts on November 21, 2022.
“There is criticism, yes, there is work that needs to be done. There is however a lot of progress.”