‘Profoundly unjust:’ 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 unleashed a tirade against Western critics of the controversial tournament in an explosive hour-long monologue.

Infantino, the boss of world football’s governing body, looked disgusted as he addressed hundreds of journalists in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.

“We are being taught many lessons by the Europeans, by 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 giving moral lessons.”

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

In a remarkable press conference, Infantino appeared exhausted. He has spent a lot of time defending FIFA’s decision in 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar. A controversial decision taken when he was not chairman of the governing body.

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 focus focused on human rights, from the deaths of migrant workers and the conditions many have endured. in Qatar, on LGBTQ and women’s rights.

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Infantino, while admitting things were not perfect, said some criticism was “deeply unfair” and accused the West of double standards.

Infantino answered questions about the last-minute ban on selling alcohol at stadiums.

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

“Today I feel Qatar. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel like a migrant worker,” he said, in front of an astonished audience.

“I feel this, all this, because what I see and what I’ve been told, since I don’t read, otherwise I think I’d be depressed.

“What I have seen brings me back to my personal history. 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 that real change took time, adding that FIFA would not abandon the country after the tournament. He suggested that he believed some Western journalists would forget the issues.

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“We have to invest in education, give them a better future, give them hope. We all need to be educated,” he said.

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

Infantino also fielded 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 FIFA statement issued on Friday, the governing body said alcohol would be sold in fan zones and licensed venues.

The Muslim country is considered very conservative and strictly regulates the sale and use of alcohol.

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

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

“Will be […] over 200 places where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and over 10 fan zones where over 100,000 people can drink alcohol at the same time.

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

“Especially because the same rules actually apply in France or Spain or Portugal or Scotland, where beer is no longer allowed in stadiums,” he added.

“It seems to be a big deal because it’s a Muslim country or I don’t know why.”

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

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

“Let me also mention the LGBT situation. I have talked about this issue with the top leadership of the country many times, not just once. They have confirmed, and I can confirm, that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said.

“This is a clear requirement of FIFA. Everyone should be welcome, everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome, whatever their religion, race, sexual orientation, belief. Everyone is welcome. This was our demand and the State of Qatar is sticking to this demand,” Infantino said.

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