Doha, Qatar | Sun | November 20, 2022
The World Cup finally gets underway on Sunday after 12 years of questions and criticisms of the tournament being held in Qatar. But though kickoff for the opening match is just hour’s away, soccer itself is still being overshadowed by off-the-field matters.
In a ferocious hour-long rant, FIFA President Gianni Infantino launched an astonishing attack against Western opponents of the contentious tournament that is still making headlines today. It was called “crass” and a “insult” to migrant workers by human rights organizations.
In Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, Infantino, the head of world soccer’s governing body, addressed hundreds of journalists and opened the news conference with a nearly hour-long speech in which he accused Western critics of hypocrisy and racism.
Regarding critiques of Qatar’s human rights record, he said, “We are taught many lessons from Europeans, from the Western world.
“Before beginning to impart moral teachings, we Europeans should be making amends for the next 3,000 years for what we have been doing for the past 3,000 years.”
As the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, this event will go down in history. However, it is also rife with controversy, with much of the lead-up focusing on issues related to human rights, including the deaths of migrant workers and the conditions many of them endured in Qatar, as well as LGBTQ and women’s rights.
The tournament’s participants have come under heavy fire. Last week, British comedian Joe Lycett questioned David Beckham’s status as a homosexual icon if the former Manchester United player and captain of England decided to continue serving as an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup.
In Qatar, homosexuality is against the law and can result in up to three years in prison. Human Rights Watch reported instances of Qatari security personnel arbitrarily detaining LGBT persons and subjecting them to “ill-treatment in detention” as recently as September in a report that was published last month.
Maluma, a Colombian musician who performs in the World Cup anthem, left an Israeli television interview when asked about the human rights record of the Gulf state.
‘Today I feel gay’
Despite the fact that Qatar’s team will play Ecuador in the opening match on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, Infantino’s unusual press conference was largely devoted to what he dubbed the “hypocrisy” of Western critics.
Infantino claimed to have experienced bullying as a child due to his red hair and freckles when he told media that he had experienced discrimination.
“I feel Qatari today. I feel Arab today. My current mood is African. I feel gay today. I feel unable today. In front of a dumbfounded audience, he said, “Today I feel like a migrant worker.
“I feel this, all this, because of what I have seen and heard, since I don’t read, otherwise I guess I would be depressed,” What I’ve observed reminds me of my own experience. My parents are migrant labourers. My parents were working quite hard in trying circumstances.
Infantino claimed that Qatar had made strides in a number of areas, but emphasized that real transformation takes time and that FIFA would remain there even beyond the competition. He implied that he believed certain Western journalists would ignore the problems.
To give them a better future and give them hope, we must invest in their education. We ought to all further our education, he said.
“Change and reform require time. In our European nations, it took hundreds of years. Everywhere takes time, and shouting will never produce results. Instead, engage in conversation.
Human rights organizations have denounced the FIFA president’s remarks. “Infantino’s comments were as crude as they were awkward,” said Nicholas McGeehan, director of FairSquare, a non-profit human rights organization, in a statement. “This suggests that the FIFA president is getting his talking points directly from the Qatari authorities.
In a statement, Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International, said Gianni Infantino was ignoring both FIFA’s accountability for it and the massive price paid by migrant workers to make his showpiece tournament feasible.
Infantino also responded to inquiries over the last-minute decision to forbid the sale of alcohol at the eight stadiums that will serve as the sites of the 64 games that make up the tournament. The governing organization FIFA announced on Friday that alcohol would be offered in fan zones and authorized locations.
The Muslim nation is seen as being extremely conservative, and alcohol sales and consumption are strictly regulated.
Qatar had announced in September that it would allow ticketed supporters to purchase alcoholic beverages at World Cup stadiums three hours prior to kickoff and for one hour following the final whistle, but not while the game was in progress.
Let me first reassure you that every choice made during this World Cup is a result of a collaboration between FIFA and Qatar, he said. Every choice is debated, discussed, and reached collectively.
“There will be […] over 200 places where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and over 10 fan zones, where over 100,000 people can drink alcohol simultaneously. “I think personally, if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive,” said the author.
Particularly considering that the same regulations already apply in Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, and other countries where beer is currently not permitted in stadiums.
“I don’t know why, but it appears to become a big deal since it’s a Muslim country.”
In response to worries from the LGBTQ community, Infantino insisted that everyone will be secure in Qatar as he concluded the news conference.
Despite the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and is subject to a three-year prison sentence, FIFA President Sepp Blatter promised that this tournament was open to all.
“Let me also bring up the LGBT issue. I have discussed this subject with the nation’s highest leadership many than once, not just once. Everyone is welcome, they have said, and I can affirm that,” Infantino said.
“FIFA clearly requires this. Everyone must be accepted, and whoever comes to Qatar is welcome regardless of their color, sexual orientation, or other beliefs. All are welcomed. This was our demand, and the state of Qatar upholds that demand,” Infantino added.