Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich says his “childhood dream” of playing at the World Cup is tainted by constant criticism of tournament hosts Qatar from his country.
“I would like to be able to look forward to a World Cup, even if it takes place here,” Kimmich said on Wednesday ahead of Germany’s opener against Japan.
“It’s a big dream for all of us, we’re all on fire. We all want to play a good tournament, we all want to win tomorrow and yes, it’s not our fault where the World Cup takes place.”
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Germany’s build-up to the tournament in Qatar has been overshadowed by fan protests at home, political statements and calls for a boycott of the tournament over human rights issues, including the treatment of migrants and members of the LGBTQ community in the oil and gas-rich Gulf state. .
Kimmich, who has never suggested the complaints or complaints were in any way misplaced, previously said the protest was 12 years too late in reference to FIFA’s decision in 2010 to award the most important soccer tournament to Qatar.
The 27-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder reiterated that point on Wednesday.
“We have talked a lot about the World Cup being awarded here. That was 12 years ago, when I was 15, and now somehow I always have to talk about it. I don’t know if it’s always justified,” he said.
Kimmich said he believes it is important for players to speak up against problems and complaints.
“But we also have to manage this balancing act of focusing on the athletic side,” he said.
“I mean regardless of where the World Cup is, it’s the World Cup, it’s the biggest competition for us footballers out there. It’s a huge childhood dream to play tomorrow, and yet somehow I have the feeling that it’s always being talked down a little or that you’re not looking forward to it.”
Kimmich referred to the general atmosphere in Germany, where there are none of the usual huge outdoor fan parties and where hundreds of pubs and taverns boycotted the tournament in protest.
There are few flags flying from balconies or car windows, and there is little indication that the event is of much interest.
“I don’t think there’s any real joy there,” Kimmich said.
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