World Cup 2022: Fifa president Gianni Infantino accuses West of ‘hypocrisy’

Gianni Infantino
Infantino became FIFA President in February 2016.
host country: Qatar Dates: November 20 – December 18 coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. TV listings day by dayFull coverage details

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has accused the West of “hypocrisy” in its reporting on Qatar’s human rights record on the eve of the World Cup.

In an extraordinary soliloquy at a press conference in Doha, Infantino spoke for nearly an hour and offered a passionate defense of Qatar and the tournament.

Cases in Qatar overshadowed the event, including deaths of migrant workers and the treatment of homosexuals.

The Swiss-born Infantino said European countries should apologize for the actions committed in their history, rather than focusing on the issues of migrant workers in Qatar.

Infantino opened by saying, “Today I have strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel helpless, I feel like a migrant worker.”

Host country Qatar kicks off the tournament against Ecuador at Al-Bayt Stadium on Sunday (16:00 GMT).

In February 2021, the Guardian newspaper said that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since it won the bid to host the World Cup.

The figure is based on figures provided by the embassies of the countries in Qatar.

However, the Qatari government said the total number was misleading, because not all recorded deaths were of people working on World Cup-related projects.

Infantino said, “I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years all over the world, we must apologize for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons.”

“If Europe is really interested in the fate of these people, it can create legal channels – as Qatar has done – where a number of these workers can come to Europe to work. Give them some future and some hope.

“I find it difficult to understand the criticism. We have to invest in helping these people, in education and giving them a better future and more hope. We must all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect but fixing and changing takes time.

“This one-sided moral lesson is just plain hypocritical. I wonder why no one recognizes the progress here since 2016.”

“It’s not easy for critics of a decision made 12 years ago. Qatar is ready, it’s going to be the best World Cup ever.

“I don’t have to defend Qatar, they can defend themselves. I defend football, Qatar has made progress and I feel many other things too.

“Of course I am not Qatari, Arab, African, gay, disabled or a migrant worker. But I feel I love them because I know what it is like to experience discrimination and intimidation as a foreigner in a foreign country.”

Qatar has been under pressure to build a center for migrant workers, and Infantino announced a “dedicated, permanent office” in Doha, after discussions with the Qatari government and the International Labor Organization.

He also said that every worker involved in an accident “receives compensation according to the law.”

“Depending on the size, it could be several years’ salary,” he added.

Infantino also said that FIFA’s Qatar 2022 Legacy Fund will be dedicated to education, and will sign an agreement that will help 25 million children and women in India.

Alcohol turned into a ‘common decision’

Just two days before the start of the tournament, FIFA changed its policy and Declared no alcohol It will be presented at any of the eight World Cup stadiums.

Alcoholic beverages were to be served “in designated areas within the stadiums”, although their sale is strictly controlled in the Islamic State.

Those who live in the corporate areas of the stadiums at the tournament will still be able to purchase alcohol.

Speaking about the changed decision, Infantino said: “If this was our biggest problem for the World Cup, I would resign immediately and go to the beach to relax.

“Let me first assure you that every decision taken in this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA.

“There will be many fan areas where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and fans can drink alcohol at the same time. I think if you can’t drink beer for three hours a day, you will survive.

“Especially since the same rules apply in France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland. Here it becomes a big deal because it’s a Muslim country? I don’t know why. We tried and that’s why I give you the late change of policy. We tried to see if it was possible.”

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