In the year On the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA president Gianni Infantino launched an hours-long monologue against Western critics of the controversial tournament.
World soccer governing body Infantino drew attention as he addressed hundreds of reporters in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
“We have learned many lessons from the Europeans, from the West,” he said, referring to criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.
“What we Europeans have been doing for the past 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we teach them morals.”
Although the opening match kicks off on November 20, Infantino has had plenty to say about football, focusing on what he calls the “hypocrisy” of Western critics.
At a dramatic press conference, Infantino looked exhausted. In the year He spent a lot of time defending FIFA’s decision to award the 2010 World Cup to Qatar. A controversial decision made when the governing body is not president.
This tournament will be the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, a historic event, but it has been included in controversial circumstances, and most of the construction has focused on human rights, including the death of migrant workers and the situation that many have endured in Qatar, for LGBTQ and women’s rights.
Infantino, while acknowledging that things are not perfect, said some of the criticism was “very unfair” and accused West of two levels.
The Italian opened the news conference by speaking for about an hour, telling reporters that he knows what it feels like to be ostracized and that he was bullied as a child because of his red hair and freckles.
“I feel like Qatar today. I feel Arab today. I feel African today. Today I feel gay. I feel disabled today. I felt like a migrant worker today,” he said in front of a shocked audience.
“I feel all this, because what I see and what I’m told, I don’t read, otherwise I think I’d be depressed.
“What I saw brings me back to my personal history. I am the son of a migrant worker. My parents worked very hard under difficult circumstances.”
Infantino said progress has been made in Qatar on various issues, but real change has taken time, adding that FIFA will not leave the country after the tournament. He pointed out that he thinks that some western journalists forget the issues.
“We need to invest in education, to give them a better future. We all need to educate ourselves,” he said.
“Reformation and change take time. It took hundreds of years in our country in Europe. It takes time everywhere. The only way to get results is through participation. […] Not by shouting.”
Infantino responded to questions about the last-minute decision not to sell alcohol in the eight stadiums that will host the tournament’s 64 matches. FIFA said in a statement on Friday that alcohol will be sold in fan zones and 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 ticketed fans to buy alcoholic beer at World Cup stadiums three hours before and one hour after the final whistle, but during the match.
“First of all, 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 collectively.”
“there will be […] More than 200 places to buy alcohol in Qatar and more than 10 fan zones where more than 100,000 people can drink alcohol at the same time.
“I think if you can’t drink beer for three hours a day, you’ll survive.”
“Especially in France or Spain or Portugal or Scotland, no beer is now allowed in stadiums because the same rules apply,” he said.
“It seems like a big deal because it’s a Muslim country, or I don’t know why.”
Infantino ended his press conference by insisting that everyone would be safe in Qatar amid fears for the LGBTQ community.
Although homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison, the FIFA president has promised that the tournament will be for everyone.
“Let me also mention the LGBT situation. I have discussed this matter with the top leadership of the country not only once but many times. They confirmed, and I can confirm that everyone is welcome,” Infantino said.
“This is a clear FIFA requirement. Everyone should be welcome, anyone who comes to Qatar is welcome no matter what religion, race, sexual orientation, belief she or he holds. Everyone is welcome. This was our wish and the Qatari government will meet that requirement,” Infantino said.