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 launched into an explosive hour-long monologue against Western critics of the controversial tournament.

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

“Many lessons are being taught to us from the 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 3,000 years, we have to apologize for the next 3,000 years before we teach moral lessons.

Although the opening match kicked off on November 20, Infantino barely talked about football, focusing on what he called the “hypocrisy” of Western criticism.

In an interesting press conference, Infantino appeared tired. He spent a lot of time defending FIFA’s decision in 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar. A controversial decision was made when he was not the chairman of the board of directors.

The tournament will be a historic event, the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, but it has also been mired in controversy, with much of the build-up focused on human rights, the deaths of migrant workers and the conditions many face. are there. in Qatar, advocated for LGBTQ and women’s rights.

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

Infantino fielded questions about the last-minute ban on alcohol sales in stadiums.

The Italian spoke at an hour-long press conference and told reporters that he knew what it meant to be discriminated against, saying that he was bullied as a child for having red hair and wrinkles.

“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 of what I have seen and what I have been told, because I don’t study, otherwise I think I will be depressed.

“What I saw brings me back to my personal story. I am the son of migrant workers. My parents work very hard in difficult conditions.”

Infantino said progress had been made in Qatar on many issues, but insisted that real change would take time, adding that FIFA would not abandon the country once the tournament was over. He suggested that they thought some Western journalists would overlook the issues.

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“We need to invest in education, to give them a better future, to give them hope. We all have to educate ourselves.”

“Reforms and changes take time. Hundreds of years have passed in our European countries. It takes time everywhere, the only way to get results is to get involved […] not shouting.”

Infantino also raised 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 will be sold in spectator areas 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 ticket holders to buy alcoholic beer at World Cup stadiums three hours before kick-off and one hour after the final tip-off, but not during the match.

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

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

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

“Especially because the exact same rules apply in France or in Spain or in Portugal or in Scotland, where beer is now not 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 would be safe in Qatar, amid concerns for 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 tournament for everyone.

“Let me also talk about the LGBT situation. I have talked about this issue with the highest leadership of the country, not just once. They made sure, and I can make sure, that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said.

“This is a clear need of FIFA. Everyone should be welcomed, everyone who comes to Qatar regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, belief is welcome. Everyone is welcome. This was our need and the state of Qatar It depends on the demand,” Infantino said.

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