Gianni Infantino launches explosive tirade against Western critics on eve of World Cup


Doha, Qatar
CNN

On the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino launched a tirade against Western critics of the controversial tournament in an explosive hour-long monologue.

Infantino, chairman of FIFA’s governing body, looked gloomy as he addressed hundreds of journalists in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.

“We have received many lessons from the Europeans and from the Western world,” he said, referring to criticism of Qatar’s record in the field of human rights.

“What we Europeans were doing 3,000 years ago, we must apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons.”

Despite kicking off the opening match on November 20, Infantino barely talked about football and focused his attention on what he called the “hypocrisy” of Western criticism.

In a glamorous press conference, Infantino looked exhausted. He has spent a lot of time defending FIFA’s decision in 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar. A controversial decision made when he was not Chairman of the Board.

This tournament will be a historic event, the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, but it is also mired in controversy, with much of the crowd focused on human rights, from the deaths of migrant workers and the conditions experienced by many. Suffered in Qatar, to LGBTQ and women’s rights.

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Although Infantino admitted things weren’t perfect, some of the criticism was “very unfair” and West was accused of double standards.

Infantino addressed questions about bans on the sale of alcohol in stadiums at the last minute.

The Italian opened the press conference by speaking for an hour, telling reporters that he knows what it feels like to be discriminated against, saying that he was bullied as a child because of his red hair and freckles.

Today I feel like a cat. Today I feel like an Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel like myself. Today I feel helpless. “Today I feel like a migrant worker,” he told a stunned audience.

“I feel this, all of it, because what I was seeing and what I was told, since I don’t read, otherwise I would get depressed I guess.

“What I saw brings me back to my personal story. I am the son of migrant workers. My parents worked very hard in difficult situations.”

Infantino said progress had been made in Qatar on a number of issues but insisted real change would take time, adding that FIFA would not leave the country after the tournament. He indicated that he believes that some Western journalists will forget these issues.

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We need to invest in education, to give them a better future, to give them hope. We must all educate ourselves.”

“Reform and change takes time. It took hundreds of years in our countries in Europe. It takes time everywhere, and the only way to get results is to participate.” […] Not by shouting.”

Infantino also addressed questions about the last-minute decision to ban the sale of alcohol in the eight stadiums that will host the tournament’s 64 matches. In a statement issued by FIFA on Friday, the federation said that alcoholic beverages will be sold in fan areas and licensed venues.

The Islamic state is very conservative and tightly regulates the sale and use of alcoholic beverages.

Qatar said in September it would allow fans with tickets to buy alcoholic beer at World Cup stadiums three hours before kick-off and for an hour after the final whistle, but not during the match.

“Let me first assure you that every decision taken in this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA,” he said. “Every decision is discussed, discussed and made jointly.”

“There will be […] More than 200 places where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and more than 10 fan zones, where more than 100,000 people can drink alcohol at a time.

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“I personally think, if you can’t drink beer for three hours a day, you’ll survive.”

“Especially because the same rules already apply in France, or in Spain, or in Portugal, or in Scotland, where beer is not allowed in stadiums now,” he added.

“It seems like it’s becoming a big thing because it’s a Muslim country, or I don’t know why.”

Infantino ended the press conference by insisting that everyone would be safe in Qatar, amid concerns from the LGBTQ community.

Homosexuality in Qatar is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison, but the FIFA president has promised that this is a tournament for everyone.

“Let me also mention, the LGBT situation. I’ve spoken about this topic with the country’s highest leadership many times, not just once. They have confirmed, and I can confirm, that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said.

“This is a clear requirement from FIFA. Everyone should be welcomed, everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation or belief. Everyone is welcome. This was our demand and the Qatari state adheres to this demand.

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