Alwaght- The president of football's international governing body FIFA blamed western critics of Qatar’s human rights record of staggering hypocrisy and deliberate racism in an extraordinary attack in Doha.
Gianni Infantino, in a 57-minute speech, said West is in no position "to give moral lessons to people," suggesting that European nations should apologize for acts committed in their own histories, rather than focusing on migrant workers’ issues in Qatar. He insisted the country had reformed beyond all recognition since winning the right to host the World Cup.
Defending the host nation, Infantino said: “We have been told many, many lessons from some Europeans, from the western world,” he said. "For what we Europeans have been doing around the world in the last 3,000 years we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.
"How many of these European or Western business companies who earn millions from Qatar, billions, how many of them have addressed migrant workers' rights with the authorities?
"None of them, because if you change the legislation it means less profit. But we did, and FIFA generates much less than any of these companies from Qatar."
“Today I feel Qatari,” he began. “Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker,” he added.
The Swiss-born Infantino then compared his struggles growing up with red hair and freckles as a child of migrant workers as helping him understand what ordinary Qataris were going through.
“Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not disabled,” he added. “But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated [against], to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian, so imagine.”
Later it was pointed out that he had missed out half the world’s population. “I feel like a woman too!” he added.
Infantino pointed out that 25,000 migrants had died trying to get into Europe since 2014, before drawing a comparison with how migrant workers are treated by Qatar. “Hundreds of thousands of workers come and earn, they earn 10 times more than in their own countries, and they help their families survive,” he said. “And they do it in a legal way. We in Europe close our borders and we don’t practically allow many workers from these countries to work legally.”
He added: “If Europe would really care about the destiny of these young people, Europe could do as Qatar did, create some legal channels, where at least a number, a percentage of these workers could come. This moral lesson, one-sided, it is just hypocrisy. I wonder why nobody recognizes the progress that has been made since 2016?”
Infantino also made light of the late decision to ban alcohol from stadiums just 48 hours before the tournament kicks off. “If this is the biggest issue we have for the World Cup then I will resign immediately and go to the beach to relax,” he said.
“Let me first assure you that every decision taken at this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and Fifa. There will be many fan zones where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and fans can simultaneously drink alcohol. I think if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive.”
He continued: “The same rules apply in France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland. Here it has become a big thing, because it is a Muslim country? I don’t know why. We tried and that is why I give you the late change of policy. We tried to see if it was possible.”
Infantino also insisted that any criticism of this World Cup should be directed at him. “If you need to criticize anybody, don’t put pressure on the players, the coaches. You want to criticize. You can crucify me. I’m here for that. Don’t criticize anyone. Don’t criticize Qatar. Let people enjoy this World Cup.
“Do we want to continue to spit on the others because they look different, or they feel different? We defend human rights. We do it our way. We obtain results. We got women fans in Iran. The Women’s League was created in Sudan. Let’s celebrate. Don’t divide.”