Gianni Infantino said he felt gay. He feels like a woman. He feels like a migrant worker. He lectured Europeans for criticizing Qatar’s human rights record and defended the host nation’s last-minute decision to ban beer at World Cup stadiums.
The FIFA president gave an hour-long rant on the eve of the World Cup opening, then spent about 45 minutes answering media questions about the actions of the Qatari government and a wide range of other topics.
“Today I feel Qatari,” Infantino said on Saturday at the start of his first World Cup press conference. Today I feel like an Arab. Today, I feel African. Today I feel like myself. Today I feel helpless. Today I feel like a migrant worker. »
Later, Infantino responded by responding to a reporter who noted that he had excluded women from his unusual ad.
The FIFA President replied: “I feel like a woman.”
Qatar has faced a slew of criticisms since 2010, when FIFA selected it to host the world’s biggest soccer tournament.
Migrant workers who built Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, London-based Equidem, said in a 75-page report published this month that they often work long hours in harsh conditions and face discrimination, wage theft and other abuses as employers evade accountability.
Infantino has defended the country’s immigration policy, praising the government for bringing immigrants to work.
“We are in Europe, we close our borders and we don’t allow any workers from these countries, who obviously earn very low incomes, to work legally in our country,” Infantino said. If Europe really cares about the fate of these people, these young people, then Europe can also do what Qatar did.
“But give them work. Give them the future. Give them some hope. But this moral lesson, on its part, is sheer hypocrisy.”
Repairs have been made, concerns remain
Qatar is ruled by a hereditary emir who has the final word on all government decisions and follows a strict form of Islam known as Wahhabism. In recent years, Qatar has undergone a transformation in the wake of the natural gas boom of the 1990s, but has faced internal pressure to stay true to its Islamic heritage and Bedouin roots.
Under intense international scrutiny, Qatar has introduced a number of labor reforms in recent years that have been hailed by Equidem and other rights groups. But human rights advocates say abuses are still rife and workers have no recourse.
Nevertheless, Infantino continued to lead the Qatari government’s discussions to return the money to the West.
“What we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years, we have to apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving people moral lessons,” said Infantino, who left Switzerland last year to live in Doha ahead of the World Cup.
Human rights are not a “culture war”
In response to his comments, human rights group Amnesty International said Infantino “ignores legitimate criticism of human rights” by rejecting the price migrant workers paid for making heroism possible and the responsibility of heroism.
“Calls for equality, dignity and redress cannot be treated as some kind of culture war – these are universal human rights that FIFA pledged to uphold in its statutes,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice.
The televised address of Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Oct. 25 marked a turning point in the country’s approach to any criticism, saying it had been “subjected to unprecedented repression that no host country has faced.” .
Since then, government ministers and chief hosts of the World Cup have called some European critics racist, and called for the creation of a compensation fund for the families of migrant workers as a publicity stunt.
We seem to forget
Qatar has often been criticized for its laws that criminalize homosexuality, limit some freedoms for women and fail to grant citizenship to immigrants.
How many homosexuals have been prosecuted in Europe? Echoing previous comments, Infantino said European countries had similar laws until recent generations. “Sorry, it was a process. We seem to be forgetting.”
In one region of Switzerland, he said, women didn’t get the right to vote until the 1990s.
It is a également critiqué les pays européens et nord-américains qui, selon lui, n’ont pas ouvert leurs frontiers pour accuellir les filles and les femmes jouant au football, alors que la FIFA and the Qatar ont travaillé to helper à quitter l’Afghanistan The last year.
He said Albania is the only country that has stepped up.
Seven of Europe’s 13 World Cup finals have said their captains will wear anti-discrimination armbands at matches, in defiance of FIFA rules, to take part in the Dutch ‘One Love’ campaign.
FIFA declined to comment publicly on the case or on the European football associations’ call for FIFA to support a compensation fund for the families of migrant workers.