Bayern Munich have been branded “shameful” by a German MP after the club played a friendly match in Saudi Arabia, just days after blogger Raif Badawi received the first of 1,000 lashes in the country.
The German side played Al-Hilal on Saturday (17 January) amid rising consternation across the globe at Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He received the first 50 on 9 January, but the second dose was postponed to allow him to recover.
Social Democratic Party MP and head of the parliamentary committee on sport, Dagmar Freitag, said that footballers did not live in a vacuum and should set an example.
“Footballers don’t have to be politicians but they should be aware of human rights conditions and could set examples,” she said.
“Sport has a strong voice but it does not use it at the points where it makes sense and can be helpful.”
Greens spokesman Özcan Mutlu was even more critical, suggesting Bayern should have boycotted the match.
“I find this behaviour shameful. Unnecessary,” Mutlu said. “There is no honour to have a friendly game in Riyadh when, so to speak, right next to the stadium the blogger Badawi is flogged 1,000 times and has his skin pulled off his back”
The politicians’ comments came as news emerged that Saudi authorities arrested a man who filmed a video of authorities publicly beheading a woman in the street.
The German champions spent just over a week at a training camp in Qatar earlier this month before playing a friendly against Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and returning to Germany a day later.