Augsburg pull out of Al-Duhail friendly after fans protest Qatar human rights record

July 18 – German Bundesliga club Augsburg called off a friendly match with Qatari club Al-Duhail on Sunday after criticism from fans.

The game had been scheduled during a training camp in Austria but Augsberg played fellow German club Schalke instead.

“We were aware of the sensitivity of a friendly game against a Qatari club,” sporting director Stefan Reuter said in a statement.

One influential Augsburg fan group had branded the game “sportswashing” of Qatar’s image and highlighted human rights concerns over the treatment of women, LGBTQ people and migrant workers.  The group also backs a call for fans to boycott the World Cup in Qatar in November and December.

Last month, fans of English club Watford persuaded the management to call off a friendly against the Qatar national team over human rights concerns around the World Cup host nation.

Conversely, two German clubs, 1860 Munich and Mainz, stuck to plans to face Saudi Arabia-owned Newcastle United in friendlies. Third-division 1860 Munich lost 3-0 on Friday while top-tier Mainz will play Newcastle today. Mainz defended its decision by saying a cancellation would bring “serious legal and economic consequences”.

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