‘Profoundly unjust:’ Gianni Infantino launches explosive tirade against Western critics on eve of World Cup

Doha, Qatar

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, the head of world soccer’s governing body, looked somber as he addressed hundreds of reporters in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.

“We are being taught a lot of lessons from Europeans, from the Western world,” he said, referring to criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.

“What we Europeans have done for the last 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons.”

Despite the opening match kicking off on November 20, Infantino barely spoke about football, focusing 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 the governing body’s president.

This tournament will be a historic event, the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, but is also mired in controversy, with much of the build-up focusing on human rights, from the deaths of migrant workers and the conditions many face. held out in Qatar, for LGBTQ and women’s rights.

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

Infantino raised questions about the ban on selling alcohol in stadiums at the last minute.

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

“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,” he said in front of a stunned audience.

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

“What I have seen brings me back to my personal history. I am a 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 finished. He suggested that he thought some Western journalists would forget the cases.

“We must invest in education, to give them a better future, to give them hope. We should all educate ourselves, he said.

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

Infantino also raised questions about the last-minute decision to ban alcohol from being sold in the eight stadiums that will host the tournament’s 64 matches. 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 to be very conservative and strictly regulates the sale and use of alcohol.

In September, Qatar had said it would allow ticket holders 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.

“First 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 taken together.”

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

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

“It seems to be 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 promised that this was a tournament for everyone.

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

– This is a clear FIFA requirement. Everyone must be welcome, everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome regardless of their religion, race, sexual orientation, beliefs. Everyone is welcome. This was our demand and the Qatari state adheres to that demand, Infantino said.


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