“Today I feel like a Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel handicapped. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker,” Infantino told reporters in Doha.
In sweeping remarks, he appeared to raise questions about the treatment of migrant workers and discrimination against LGBTQ people as attempts to divide the world, and portrayed people concerned about these alleged human rights abuses as wanting to “spit on others.” “.
At the same time, he pledged that FIFA will defend human rights and demand Qatar to welcome all people to the World Cup, which runs until December 18. Qatar is the first Arab country to host a World Cup.
A FIFA spokesman said the organization had no further comment.
Families of migrant workers who died in Qatar await answers
Since FIFA awarded the 2010 tournament to Qatar, criticism and protests from human rights defenders, players, workers and others have been constant. The sheikhdom has large numbers of migrant workers, criminalizes homosexuality and restricts women’s rights.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have estimated that the death toll of migrant workers building World Cup facilities is in the thousands, a figure Qatar has disputed. Many of the workers are from South Asian and African countries. Meanwhile, fears for the safety of LGBTQ fans attending the tournament have grown.
Qatari authorities have denied some of the criticism.
In an Oct. 25 address, the country’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said Qatar had been subjected to “an unprecedented campaign that has never before been experienced by any host country,” the Associated Press reported. He said the allegations against the country included “falsifications and double standards”.
On Saturday, Infantino accused Europeans who have criticized Qatar’s and FIFA’s decision to host the World Cup there of hypocrisy.
“We should apologize for what we Europeans have done around the world for the past 3,000 years [the] next 3,000 years before he starts teaching moral lessons,” said Infantino.
He also said he is not defending Qatar but “defending football”.
“You can crucify me. That’s what I’m here for. Don’t criticize Qatar, don’t criticize the players,” he said. “Criticize FIFA, criticize me if you want because I am responsible for everything, but let people enjoy this World Cup.”
Some fans have announced they will boycott the games, particularly those in the LGBTQ community, due to Qatar’s homosexuality laws. In May, Tamim said everyone is welcome at the World Cup and the country will not stop anyone from coming.
“Qatar is a very welcoming country,” he said when asked about LGBTQ guests at a press conference. “We welcome everyone, but we also expect people to respect our culture.”
Some LGBTQ fans are skipping the World Cup in Qatar for fear of hostilities
Infantino said on Saturday he had confirmed with Qatar’s leaders that all fans are welcome, regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation.
“That was our requirement and the Qatari state is complying with that requirement,” he said. “Are you going to stay home and bang and criticize and say how bad they are, these Arabs or these Muslims or whatever because it’s not allowed to be gay in public?”
He also addressed the ban on alcohol sales in World Cup stadiums, an eleventh-hour change announced on Friday, and said the decision was joint between Qatar — a country that severely restricts the sale and consumption of alcohol in public places — and taken by FIFA.
“Honestly, if this is the biggest problem we have for the World Cup, I’m going to step down immediately and go to the beach and relax,” he said.
Human rights activists immediately criticized Infantino’s statements.
“Demands for equality, dignity and redress cannot be treated as some kind of culture clash – they are universal human rights that FIFA has committed to uphold in its own Statutes,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty’s director of economic and social justice International, in a statement.
Cockburn said FIFA should use a significant portion of its profits from the World Cup to compensate migrant workers and their families if the organization is to “salvage something from this tournament”.
Criticism also came from other quarters.
“You don’t know what it feels like to be gay, Infantino, you don’t know what it feels like to be African, and you can’t relate discrimination based on red hair and freckles to any of the groups you’re watching right now.” have referred,” said Sky Sports reporter Melissa Reddy on a broadcast posted on Twitter from Qatar.
“I don’t think Infantino is the right man to talk about hypocrisy. I don’t think whataboutism is the right way for a FIFA President to try to push change,” Reddy said. “If we’re all stuck on what happened before or what’s happening elsewhere and we have to remain silent because of it, we’re never going to make effective change.”
As hosts, Qatar will open the event and play Ecuador in the only game on Sunday at 11:00 am Eastern Time.
World Cup in Qatar
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