Gianni Infantino has said that he feels gay. That she feels like a woman. That I feel like a migrant worker. He chastised Europeans for their criticism of human rights abuses in Qatar and defended the host country’s last-minute decision to ban beer in World Cup stadiums.

The FIFA president gave an hour-long tirade on the eve of the opening match of the World Cupand then spent approximately 45 minutes answering media questions about the actions of the Qatari government and many other topics.

“Today I feel like Qatar,” Infantino said on Saturday at the start of his first World Cup press conference. “Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. I feel gay today. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel like a migrant worker.

Infantino later fired one reporter who noted that he omitted women from his unusual declaration.

“I feel like a woman,” replied the FIFA president.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 previews
FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks at a press conference ahead of the World Cup on November 19, 2022, in Doha, Qatar.

Getty’s paintings


Qatar has met with a litany of criticism since 2010, when FIFA selected it to host the biggest football tournament in the world.

Migrant workers who built Qatar’s World Cup stadiums often worked long hours in harsh conditions and faced discrimination, theft of wages and other abuses because their employers shied away from accountability, the London-based human rights group Equidem said in a 75-page report published this week. month.

“They’re like everyone else in the world,” Mustafa Qadri, founder of The Equidem organization, told CBS News this week about migrant workers. “You want a better life than your parents. You want your kids to go to college so they can have a better life than you. So you’re desperately looking for an opportunity.”

“I think hundreds of workers died to make the World Cup possible,” Qadri added, although he acknowledged that an exact number could not be determined.

Infantino defended the country’s immigration policy and praised the government for bringing migrants to work.

“We in Europe are closing our borders and we are not allowing virtually any worker from these countries, who is obviously on a very low income, to legally work in our countries,” Infantino said. “If Europe really cared about these people, these young people, then Europe could also do what Qatar did.

“But give them some work. Give them some future. Give them some hope. But this one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy.”

Qatar is ruled by a hereditary emir who has absolute influence over all government decisions and adheres to an ultra-conservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism. In recent years, Qatar has undergone a transformation following the natural gas boom of the 1990s, but has faced internal pressure to stay true to its Islamic heritage and Bedouin roots.

Under strong international scrutiny, Qatar has introduced a number of labor law reforms in recent years that have been praised by Equidem and other human rights organizations. But spokesmen say abuses are still commonplace and workers have few redress.

Infantino, however, continued to strike at the Qatari government’s arguments to direct criticism back to the West.

“For what we Europeans have done for the last 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving people moral lessons,” said Infantino, who moved from Switzerland to Doha last year before the World Cup.

In response to his comments, the human rights organization Amnesty International said that Infantino “pushes aside legitimate criticism of human rights”, dismissing the price migrant workers paid to make the tournament possible and FIFA’s responsibility for it.

“Demands for equality, dignity and redress cannot be treated as a kind of culture war – these are universal human rights that FIFA has committed to uphold in its own statute,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice.

Qatar Push Back:

A televised speech by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on October 25 marked a turning point in the country’s approach to any criticism, claiming that it had been “subjected to an unprecedented campaign that no host nation has faced.”

Since then, government ministers and senior staff at the World Cup organization have dismissed some European criticism as racism and called for a compensation fund for the families of migrant workers as a publicity stunt.

WHAT ABOUT EUROPE?

Qatar has often been criticized for laws criminalizing homos*xuality, restricting some women’s freedoms, and not granting citizenship to migrants.

“How many gays have been prosecuted in Europe?” Infantino said, echoing earlier comments, that European countries had similar rights until recent generations. “Sorry, it was a trial. We seem to forget.”

He recalled that in one region of Switzerland, women were only granted the right to vote in the 1990s.

He also chided European and North American countries, which he said had not opened their borders to receive girls and women soccer players whom FIFA and Qatar had helped leave Afghanistan last year.

He said Albania was the only country to step up efforts.

“ONE LOVE:”

Seven of the 13 European teams at the World Cup said their captains would wear anti-discrimination armbands during matches against FIFA rules, taking part in a Dutch campaign called ‘One Love’.

FIFA declined to comment publicly on the matter or to call on European football federations to FIFA to support a compensation fund for the families of migrant workers.

The answers came on Saturday.

FIFA now has its own armband designs, with more general slogans, in collaboration with various UN agencies. The group match wristbands are labeled “FootballUnitesTheWorld”, “SaveThePlanet”, “ProtectChildren” and “ShareTheMeal”.

The “No Discrimination” rule applies to the quarter-final matches.

Not good enough, the German football federation said a few hours later, opting to stick with the multi-colored heart-shaped armband with the “One Love” logo.

FIFA also wants to create a legacy fund from its proceeds from this year’s World Cup – and will allow its critics or anyone who wishes to contribute.

“And those who invest a certain amount will be part of the board that can decide where the money goes,” Infantino said.

Funding from past World Cups went directly to host football – $100 million from FIFA to South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014. Some of the money was spent on new vehicles for officials and even more opaque projects.

This time, the two priorities of global projects are education and a “centre of excellence for the workforce” in cooperation with the UN-backed International Labor Organization.

MEDIA ESTIMATES:

British media reported this week that the fans wearing England shirts and cheering outside the team’s hotel were Indian people who lived and worked in Qatar.

This followed reports of Qatar’s project to pay for some 1,500 fans from 31 visiting teams who traveled to the World Cup, sang at the opening ceremony on Sunday and stayed to post positive content on social media about the host country.

This has fueled a long-standing narrative that Qatar pays people to be sports fans.

“Do you know what it is? This is racism. It’s pure racism,” Infantino said of the criticism about the England national team. “Everyone in the world had the right to support whomever they wanted.”

Infantino spoke knowing he would have no objection to being re-elected as FIFA president in March.

“Unfortunately for some of you,” he told reporters on Saturday, “it looks like I’m going to be here for four more years.”

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