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Lufthansa’s German World Cup plane carries ‘DiversityWins’ slogan

Lufthansa said Monday it will be using an aircraft bearing the sign "#DiversityWins!" to fly Germany's football team to their World Cup campaign, one of the most controversial tournaments in history.

world cup team
The team boarded the plane in Frankfurt on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

The plane takes off on Monday with players, coaches and support staff to their training camp in Muscat, Oman, ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

“The aircraft assigned to the flight — an Airbus A330 — will be sporting a special livery that sends a clear message to the world: #DiversityWins!,” said Lufthansa in a statement.

Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community has come under the spotlight, as it prepares to host the tournament. Qatar has angrily rebuffed most of the attacks and local media on Sunday blasted the “arrogance” of some Western countries.

READ ALSO: How a World Cup comment started a human rights debate in Germany

Organised fan groups from several high-profile German clubs, including Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Union Berlin and St Pauli have frequently criticised the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar in recent weeks, with some calling for widespread supporter boycotts.

On Sunday, Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm said that Qatar should never have been allowed to host the World Cup and vowed to stay away from the tournament.

“Awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake,” Lahm wrote in a column for Die Zeit newspaper. “It doesn’t belong there.”

“Homosexuals are still criminalised, women do not have the same rights as men, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are restricted,” Lahm added.

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POLITICS

Court orders re-run of chaotic 2021 Berlin election

A German court on Wednesday threw out the results of Berlin's state election 14 months ago and ordered a re-run due to "systematic faults" in how the vote was carried out.

Court orders re-run of chaotic 2021 Berlin election

In a ruling with national implications, Berlin’s constitutional court found that the German capital, which is one of the country’s 16 federal states, had failed to meet basic democratic standards with the September 26, 2021 ballot.

“The linked elections for the state legislature and the (12) district councils for the entire constituency have been declared null and void,” the court’s chief justice, Ludgera Selting, said.

The exceedingly rare move means that nearly 2.5 million eligible voters will be called back to the polls within 90 days, possibly shifting majorities after a very narrow win for centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) Mayor Franziska Giffey.

Giffey, who leads a fractious coalition between the SPD, the Greens and the far-left Die Linke, called the court’s order “a difficult and challenging situation, particularly in the current crisis” with soaring energy prices in the wake of the Ukraine war.

Berlin’s chief voting officer set the new election date for February 12th, 2023, which Giffey pledged would go off “smoothly”.

READ ALSO: Why Berlin could vote again after 2021 election disaster

Giffey leads a fractious coalition between the SPD, the Greens and the far-left Die Linke.

Any upset could also shift the balance of power in the Bundesrat, the upper house of the federal parliament, which represents the regional states.

Complaints about the fairness of the vote came as soon as election day, which coincided with Germany’s general election to decide the successor of then chancellor Angela Merkel — as well as the city’s giant marathon, which blocked off major streets to traffic.

Long queues outside polling stations, missing ballots and chaotic voting hours formed the basis of multiple legal complaints.

Selting said the “frequency and gravity of the electoral flaws” made a repetition a “necessity”, slamming “systematic faults in the preparation of the election”.

Some districts of Berlin may be called to vote again as well in the general election, which voted in Olaf Scholz as new chancellor, pending a decision by the federal constitutional court.

It is only the second time in German post-war history that a state election was declared invalid, after irregularities were reported in a vote in Hamburg in 1991.

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