Fifa president accuses West of ‘hypocrisy’ for Qatar criticism
Doha, Nov 19 (EFE).- Fifa president Gianni Infantino on Saturday hit back against Western criticism of the hosts of the World Cup, Qatar, accusing European countries of “hypocrisy.”
Football’s world governing body has been heavily criticized for its decision to award the tournament to the Gulf nation, which has been accused of violating the rights of migrant workers and of LGBTQ+ people, in addition to allegations of corruption.
Human rights groups estimate that thousands of migrants from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar on construction projects since its successful World Cup bid.
Speaking during the tournament’s opening press conference a day before the first game between Qatar and Ecuador, Infantino said instead of handing out “moral lessons”, “Europeans should be apologizing”.
Fifa’s president, who was born in Switzerland, began his nearly hour-long remarks by saying: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker.
“Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated (against), (…) as a foreigner in a foreign country.”
Infantino described how he was bullied as a child, the son of Italian migrant workers from Switzerland, and how he had “engaged” with the local population in order to make friends.
“Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing,” he said.
“Qatar has also made progress,” Infantino said, adding that he found it “sad” to see the “double standard” from Europe.
The Fifa president also praised Qatar for giving young migrant workers an opportunity that was not available to them in Europe, which closes its borders to these 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,” he said.
He also denounced that none of the Western companies operating in Qatar had addressed the rights of migrant workers like Fifa had.
“I don’t have to defend Qatar. They can defend themselves. I defend football and injustice. Many come and don’t care about these workers. Fifa does care, football cares and so does Qatar,” he added. EFE