With regard to the World Cup in Qatar, sports presenter Jochen Breyer is like many fans in Germany. He is looking forward to football, but: “As far as the host country is concerned, I have a lot of questions.” That’s why the ZDF man, who will also be in action at the World Cup, went to the controversial host country himself in advance. In order to “get your own picture”, as Breyer explains at the beginning of the ZDF documentary “Geheimsache Qatar”.

Together with his team, Breyer takes a look behind the facade of glittering skyscrapers, brand new highways and outrageously expensive stadiums with air conditioning under the seats, with which the desert state will welcome the football world in a few days. Breyer’s meeting with Khalid Salman, Qatar’s former international and now one of the country’s ten official World Cup ambassadors, gives an impression of the social realities that collide here.

Although the interlocutor is an official representative of his country and surrounded by media professionals, outrageous statements are sometimes made. For example on the subject of gay rights. “Everyone will accept that they come here. But they will have to accept our rules,” says Salman while chatting in the cafĂ©. When the spokesman intervened that it was better not to argue on the legal level, after all homosexuality is a punishable offense in Qatar, Salman tried morality. “When children see gays, they learn something that isn’t good,” explains the Katari. Homosexuality is “haram,” meaning it’s forbidden for religious reasons, and a sin. Why? “It’s mental damage,” says the Katari. Now Salman’s press companion has to end the conversation for good.

It all started out so nice. Salman first greets Breyer very warmly on his Qatar tour and raves about how happy he is about the World Cup in his own country. And he even takes him behind the walls of his luxurious private quarters to watch football with friends in the guest living room. Here, Salman and his clique regularly watch the big European football leagues, Real Madrid and Liverpool FC games, and sometimes the Bundesliga. Soccer euphoria is definitely there, Breyer notes, while the staff in the house keep supplying him with snacks.

On the other hand, Breyer does not see the wives of the football-mad men, because they are not even allowed to watch in the private living room. In general: Breyer wants to know from the group why women are only allowed to go out fully veiled, whereupon one of the men tries to explain it with a pictorial allegory. “In front of you is an unwrapped candy, you don’t know if someone touched it or bit into it, and a wrapped candy. Which one do you take?” Probably the packaged ones, Breyer replies. “But women aren’t sweets.”

Since the westerner isn’t convinced, a buddy tries pragmatic arguments. Home is the nicest place anyway, with all the wealth and luxury. “Why should a woman leave the house, give up the money, the care, the love?” Breyer’s questions are unlikely to have been resolved after the meeting, and the subject of human rights for guest workers was not even discussed.

The ZDF documentary, on the other hand, presents ex-Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as a great understander of Qatar. His commitment to the World Cup, which was awarded under dubious circumstances, is also critically examined in the film. What exactly did the European football club bosses discuss with the Qataris in the luxury hotel in Doha in 2013, shortly before Rummenigge spoke out in favor of moving the World Cup to the winter (instead of withdrawing it)? Who made the two Rolex watches that Rummenigge brought back from the meeting and that earned him a customs fine of 250,000 euros? And why has the Bundesliga in general and FC Bayern in particular benefited from Qatari television and sponsorship money in the millions for years?

Rummenigge didn’t want to talk to the ZDF team about any of this. A football manager who was there in Doha in 2013 comments on this. “Everyone knew, of course, that the meeting in Doha was lobbying,” says the interlocutor, while protecting his anonymity. He had the impression that FC Bayern should be bought as a lobby club for Qatar. Some of the questions about the controversial World Cup in Qatar must also be answered in Germany.

You can watch the ZDF documentary “Geheimsache Qatar” here