Augsburg scraps game against Qatari club after fans complain

AUGSBURG, Germany (AP) — German Bundesliga club Augsburg said Friday it has called off a friendly match with Qatari club Al-Duhail after criticism from fans.

Augsburg was due to play Al-Duhail during a training camp in Austria on Sunday but has now canceled those plans and will play 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. “Now an alternative with Schalke 04 has come up at short notice, so we have sent this signal and called off the game against Al Duhail.”

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 said they persuaded the management to call off a friendly against the Qatar national team over human rights concerns around the World Cup host nation.

Two other German clubs are sticking to plans to face Saudi Arabia-owned Newcastle in friendlies despite criticism from fans. Third-division 1860 Munich was playing Newcastle on Friday and top-tier Mainz will play Monday. Mainz defended its decision by saying a cancellation would bring “serious legal and economic consequences.”

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