‘Deeply unfair:’ Gianni Infantino launches explosive tirade against Western critics ahead of World Cup
Infantino, the boss of world football’s governing body, looked grim as he addressed hundreds of journalists in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
“We have been taught many lessons from the Europeans, from the Western world,” he said, referring to criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.
“What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3000 years, we should apologize for the next 3000 years before we start teaching morals.”
Despite the opening match starting on November 20, Infantino barely spoke about football and focused his attention on what he called the “hypocrisy” of Western criticism.
In an extraordinary press conference, Infantino looked tired. He has spent much time defending FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in 2010. He took a controversial decision when he was not president of the governing body.
The tournament will be a historic event, the first World Cup held in the Middle East, but has also been mired in controversy, much of the build-up focused on human rights, the deaths of migrant workers and the plight of many LGBTQ and women’s rights endured in Qatar.
Infantino, while admitting things aren’t perfect, called some of the criticism “deeply unfair” and accused West of double standards.
The Italian opened the press conference by speaking for an hour, telling reporters he knows what it’s like to be discriminated against, saying he was bullied as a child for having red hair and freckles.
“Today I feel nauseous. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel incapacitated. Today I feel like a migrant worker,” he said before a stunned audience.
“I feel all this, because of what I see and what I am told, because I do not read, otherwise I think I will be disappointed.
“What I saw brought me back to my personal story. I am the child of migrant workers. My parents were working very hard under difficult circumstances.
Infantino said progress had been made in Qatar, but stressed that real change took time, adding that FIFA would not leave the country after the tournament. He suggested that he thought some Western journalists would forget the issues.
“We have to invest in education, to give them a better future, to give them hope. We should all educate ourselves,” he said.
“Reforms and changes take time. It took hundreds of years in our country of Europe. It all takes time, the only way to get results is to engage […] Not by shouting.”
Infantino also questioned the last-minute decision Ban alcohol The eight stadiums that will host the tournament’s 64 matches are sold out. In a FIFA statement issued on Friday, the governing body said alcohol will be sold in fan zones and licensed venues.
The Muslim country is considered highly conservative and strictly regulates the sale and consumption of alcohol.
In September, Qatar said it would allow ticket-holding fans to buy alcoholic beer in World Cup stadiums three hours before kickoff and one hour after the final whistle, but not during matches.
“First of all let me assure you that every decision taken in this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA,” he said. “Every decision is discussed, debated and made jointly.”
“There will be […] Qatar has more than 200 places where you can buy alcohol and more than 10 fan zones, where more than 100,000 people can drink alcohol together.
“I personally think, if you can’t drink beer for three hours a day, you’ll survive.”
“Especially because actually the same rules apply in France or Spain or Portugal or Scotland, where beer is now not allowed in stadiums,” he added.
“It seems to have become a big thing because it’s a Muslim country, or I don’t know why.”
Infantino ended the press conference by stressing that everyone would be safe amid Qatar’s concerns. The LGBTQ community.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by three years in prison, but the FIFA president promised it was a tournament for all.
“Let me mention as well, the LGBT situation. Not only once, but several times I have spoken to the highest leadership of the country about this. They confirmed, and I can confirm that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said.
“This is a clear FIFA requirement. Everyone should be welcome, everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome regardless of his or her religion, caste, sexual orientation, creed. Welcome everyone. This was our requirement and the State of Qatar is steadfast in that requirement,” Infantino said.
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