MUNICH: Bayern Munich has sought to justify its close relationship with Qatari organisations against criticism from human rights campaigners writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The record German champions regularly fly to the Gulf state for winter break training and sponsorship activities and believe that human and workers’ rights progress has been achieved there as a direct result of the worldwide pressure generated by football visibility.

Latest criticism came from Wenzel Michalski, the director of Human Rights Watch Germany over the long-term issues of abuses in the construction of 2022 World Cup stadia and supporting infrastructure.

Michalski believed FC Bayern had fallen short of human rights obligations and thus “contradict the values the club claims to champion.”

Bayern defended its links with Qatar in reponse to an inquiry from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

The club said: “We’re seeing a positive development as far as the (current) situation in Doha is concerned. The United Nations Labour Organisation confirmed this in November and officially terminated their investigation into the working and living conditions of guest workers in Qatar.

“The criticised kafala labour system now needs to be phased out gradually. The (German) Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently told us that the situation of workers in Qatar has improved through football, although of course there is room for further improvement.

“As a representative of the whole football family, FC Bayern plays its part towards ensuring this can be achieved. We are engaged in a global competition with the best European clubs. But our partners in Doha are also aware of our beliefs.

“We talk about these matters confidentially, and trust continues to grow with every conversation. That is the most important prerequisite for change.”