‘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 lashed out at Western critics of the controversial tournament in an explosive one-hour speech.

Infantino, the boss of world soccer’s governing body, looked sad as he spoke to hundreds of reporters in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.

“We are being taught many lessons from 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 giving moral lessons.”

Although the first game starts on November 20, Infantino did not say anything about football and focused on what he called the “hypocrisy” of Western criticism.

In a surprise press conference, Infantino looked tired. He has spent a lot of time defending FIFA’s decision in 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar. A controversial decision made when he was not the president of the ruling party.

This tournament will be a historic event, the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, but it has also been overshadowed by conflict, and much of the construction focused on human rights, from the death of foreign workers and situations that many have. tolerance in Qatar, LGBTQ and women’s rights.

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

Infantino answered questions about the last-minute ban on alcohol being sold in stadiums.

The Italian opened the press conference by speaking for an hour, telling reporters that he knows how it feels to be discriminated against, saying that he was bullied as a child for having red hair and spots.

“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 an audience of they were surprised.

“I feel this, all this, because what I have been seeing and what I have been told, I have not read, otherwise I would be depressed.

“What I saw brought me back to my personal story. He is the son of migrant workers. My parents worked very hard in difficult circumstances.”

Infantino said progress had been made in Qatar on various issues, but insisted that real change took time, adding that FIFA would not leave the country after the tournament. He suggested that he thought that some Western journalists would forget about the news.

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

“Changes and change take time. It took centuries in our European countries. It all takes time, the only way to get results is through participation […] not by shouting.”

Infantino also answered questions about the last-minute decision to ban the sale of alcohol in the eight stadiums that will host the 64-match tournament. In a FIFA statement issued on Friday, the governing body said that alcohol will be sold in fan areas and in licensed areas.

The Muslim country is considered very conservative and strictly controls the sale and consumption of alcohol.

In September, Qatar said it would allow ticket holders to buy beer at World Cup stadiums three hours before kick-off and one hour after the final whistle. but not during the game.

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

“There will be […] more than 200 places where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and more than 10 fan places, where more than 100,000 people can drink alcohol at the same time.

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

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

“It seems like a big deal 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 is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison, but the FIFA president has promised that this is a competition for everyone.

Let me say it again, the LGBT situation. I have discussed this issue with the top leadership of the country many times, not just once. They made sure, and I can make sure, that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said.

“This is a clear requirement of FIFA. Everyone must be welcomed, everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome whatever religion, race, sexual orientation, belief they have. everyone is welcome. This was our demand and the Qatari country adheres to that demand,” Infantino said.

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