Dhe first session with a ball by Karla Borger and Julia Sude in their training camp at Jandia Playa in the south of Fuerteventura went well. Sunshine, 21 degrees, little wind. And the cell phones off. Because the waves hit not only on the Atlantic coast, but also on the Internet.
Shortly before their trip to the Canary Islands, the two beach volleyball players had declared that they would not start the tournament from March 8th to 12th in Doha because of the dress code that was unacceptable from their point of view. The regulations of the Qatari authorities there stipulated that players should start in shirts and knee-length trousers instead of the usual sports bikini. “We don’t want to support that,” said Borger / Sude and acknowledged the registration form with a “No”. Their attitude caused a stir far beyond the beach scene and also startled the sports politicians of the desert state, which has been trying for years to polish up its image through high-quality sporting events.
Even sketches of the clothes were added
Qatar’s volleyball association QVA immediately denied the long pants decree and informed the AFP news agency that it had “made no demands” on what the athletes should wear at the event. The Qataris even referred to the World Beach Games 2019 in the emirate, where players had played in their usual tight dress. They are therefore free to wear sportswear at the tournament in March that they are used to from other countries.
However, Constantin Adam, the manager of Borger / Sude, contradicted this representation and referred to the tournament regulations. These are usually created by the World Federation (FIVB) in consultation with the local host and clarify all questions relating to the technical and organizational process of a tournament. In the Doha case, point 10 of 17 states that women should wear T-shirts and knee-length trousers instead of the usual sports bikinis “out of respect for local culture and tradition”, even during training. Sketches of the clothes are even attached to illustrate this. Adam rates the Qataris’ denial as an outright “lie”.
The FIVB has included the tournament in Qatar in the competition calendar for women for the first time. Only men played there for the past seven years. The world federation emphasized that it had not received any negative feedback for the tournament except from Borger / Sude. Which may have sporting reasons: The tournament in the emirate is so far the only one that takes place before the Olympic Games. This is one of the reasons why it is extremely important for many players to take part there. 52 duos from 23 countries have registered, including almost all top teams from Brazil, the United States and Europe. Four German teams are also there.
For Laura Ludwig and her partner Margareta Kozuch, the restrictions were not an issue, said Ludwig, Olympic champion from 2016, in a podcast on the ARD sports show: “We don’t want to hide problems in the country,” she said, “but the focus is on sport move. We are really looking forward to the tournament ”.
“We criticize that”
Karla Borger also emphasized that she respect all players if, from a sporting point of view, they did not want to do without the tournament. After all, it’s about the Olympic qualification, so you have to ask yourself: “What are you doing to fulfill your dream?” Ludwig / Kozuch are currently 15th in the Olympic ranking. 16 of the 24 starting places for Tokyo are assigned via this ranking list. Borger / Sude are in tenth place and are almost certain to qualify.
For them, therefore, the sport-political level and the questions of personal restrictions outweighed the sporting importance: “This is really the only country and the only tournament where we are prescribed by a government how we have to do our work, and we criticize that” , she said. That is why Borger would also like to make the world association responsible: “We are questioning whether it is necessary to have a tournament there,” said the 32-year-old in an interview with Deutschlandfunk.
Borger / Sude received a lot of feedback for their attitude and were even surprised by the amount of feedback. However, the Players Association has not yet issued a statement. An opinion on the question of attitude should now be requested from Athletes Germany, of which Karla Borger is a founding member.
National coach Helke Claasen meanwhile drew her conclusions. You will not fly to Qatar, confirmed Niclas Hildebrand, sports director of the German Volleyball Association (DVV), the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “She told me that she doesn’t want to go there because as a woman she doesn’t feel respected there.” Claasen steps in for national coach Imornefe Bowes, Laura Ludwig’s partner.
The 2016 Olympic champion is fleeing the tricky question in a joke: Perhaps it is also “good to protect your skin from the sun”, said Laura Ludwig in the podcast and emphasized that she generally likes to wear a bikini. Not to do it for once isn’t a big deal either.