FIFA President Infantino slams Europe’s hypocrisy in stunning speech
FIFA president Gianni Infantino hit out at what he described as “hypocrisy” and “racism” by countries moralizing about the Qatar World Cup and claimed Europe should “apologize in the next 3,000 years” for past mistakes.
In a stunning hour-long monologue that opened Saturday’s press conference in Doha, Infantino, who will stand unopposed for re-election as FIFA president next March, took aim at critics of Qatar and FIFA by defending the treatment of migrant workers, saying LGBTQ+ people are were welcomed and insisted that he still controls the tournament despite the stadium’s last-minute alcohol ban.
“What is sad is that, especially in recent weeks, we are helping in some places a real lesson in morality, double morality [standards]”, said Infantino.
“We have been told to take many lessons from some Europeans, from the Western world. I am a European. I think that what we Europeans have done for 3,000 years around the world, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons to people.
“How many of these European companies that make millions and millions from Qatar or other countries in the region – billions every year – how many have addressed the rights of migrant workers? I have an answer: none of them, because if they change the legislation it means less profit.
“But we did. And FIFA generated much, much, much less than any of these Qatari companies.
“We also see here many representatives of the authorities who come from Qatar. I don’t have to defend Qatar in any way, they can defend themselves. I am defending football and injustice here.
“If there was no petrol, no one would mind. But now everyone comes and everyone wants something. Who really cares about the workers? FIFA. good.”
Infantino questioned Europe’s immigration policy and argued that the West could learn from Qatar, which has faced repeated criticism from human rights activists over its treatment of migrant workers.
He said: “Where are we going with our way of working, guys? Where is the world going? If you take two steps back and look at this issue of migration and their plight of hundreds of thousands of women and men who would offer their services to those who want to help and give a future to their families back home, Qatar actually offers them this opportunity.
“Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers help their families to survive. And they do it in a legal way. We in Europe, we close our borders and do not allow practically any worker from these countries to work legally in our country. We all know that in our European countries there are many illegal workers, living conditions which are also not very good.
“Those who reach Europe, those who want to Europe, have to go through a very difficult path. Only a few survive. So if you really care about the fate of these people, these young people, then Europe could do as Qatar did did: create some legal channels where at least some of these workers could come to Europe, reduce income, but give them some work, give them some future, give them hope.
“This does not mean that we should not point out that it does not work here in Qatar either. Of course, there are things that don’t work and need to be fixed. But this moral lesson-giving, one-sided, is just hypocrisy.”
Infantino began his extraordinary speech by declaring “today I have strong feelings, today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel like a migrant worker” before saying that he understood what it means to be discriminated because “as a foreigner in a foreign country, as a child at school I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles”.
Drawing attention to LGBTQ+ rights, Infantino reiterated Qatar’s Supreme Committee’s insistence that all are welcome in the country despite the country’s strict anti-homosexuality laws, which in some cases are punishable by death.
“They have confirmed that they can confirm that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said. “If the odd person here or there says otherwise, it’s not the country’s opinion and it’s certainly not FIFA’s opinion. This is a clear request from FIFA, that everyone is welcome.
“Everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, belief, everyone is welcome. That was our request and the State of Qatar complies with that request.
“You’ll say to me, ‘Yes, but there are laws against it, or whatever, you have to go to jail.’ Yes, those laws exist. They exist in many countries in the world. These laws were in place in Switzerland when they organized the World Cup in 1954. As for workers, these are processes.”
At the request of Qatar’s Supreme Committee, alcohol was banned from stadiums just two days before Sunday’s league match between Qatar and Ecuador despite years of promises that fans would be able to buy beer at matches.
Infantino insisted FIFA was still “200% in control” of the tournament and appeared to suggest: “If this is the biggest problem we have for the World Cup, I’ll sign now and go to the beach and relax until December 18.
“Let me first assure you that every decision made at this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA. Every decision. It is discussed, debated and adopted jointly. There will be over 200 places where you can buy alcohol in Qatar.
– World Cup 2022 guide: Star players, must-see games, more
“Over 10 fan zones where over 100,000 can drink alcohol at the same time. Personally, I think if you can’t drink beer for three hours a day, you’ll survive, especially since the same rules actually apply in France or Spain or Portugal or Scotland. Beer is not allowed in stadiums.
“It’s becoming a big deal here because it’s a Muslim country. I don’t know why. We tried. I’ll give you that of course, a late policy change. Because we tried all the way to see if But it’s one thing to have plans and designs, it’s another when you start setting it up.
“Look at the flow of people, look at their security going in and out, going to different games. This is something new at this World Cup in that regard.”
#FIFA #President #Infantino #slams #Europes #hypocrisy #stunning #speech