World football boss Gianni Infantino on Saturday castigated the “hypocrisy” of Western criticism of the Qatari World Cup which opens on Sunday, mainly in the name of human rights, praising the “progress” obtained in this area by FIFA.
• Read also: ‘I am sitting here in Qatar as a homosexual,’ says FIFA media officer
• Read also: Qatar 2022: $6.5 billion for eight stadiums
• Read also: Qatar 2022: Here’s how the teams are divided
“Giving moral lessons – always in the same direction – is simply hypocrisy”, launched to the press the president of the body, very offensive on the eve of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador, after months of silence on the multiple controversies surrounding the tournament.
In an hour-long monologue, the 52-year-old leader drew extensively on his personal history to affirm that he “feels” both “Qatari”, “Arab”, African”, “gay”, “disabled” and even “ immigrant worker”, he who was born in Switzerland to parents who came from Italy.
While multiple media and NGOs have documented the harassing working conditions on the World Cup sites, Gianni Infantino assured “know what it is to be discriminated against”, because he “was harassed at school” as a child who was “red-haired and curly, with freckles, and who spoke German badly”.
“And when I first came to Doha, I went to see some of these migrant accommodations and it took me back to my childhood. I said to the Qataris: + This is not correct, we must do something about it +”, he said.
Europe ‘should apologize’
The FIFA boss thus spoke of the “progress” achieved in recent years for workers in Qatar – minimum salary of around 280 euros per month, abolition of the sponsorship system which prevented employees from leaving the country, compensation for salaries unpaid and accidents.
“Among the Western companies present here, how many are concerned about the rights of migrant workers? None. Because a change in legislation means less profit. But we did it,” argued the manager.
More broadly, he found the criticism leveled at Qatar “deeply unfair”, saying “at least the country had created legal channels” for foreign workers to come and earn a living, when “very few survive” trying to join. Europe.
“For what we Europeans have done for the past 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons to others,” he further proclaimed.
Finally, he mentioned the articles published in several countries, Spain, England, France, describing as “false supporters” the fans of South Asia showing their support for teams taking part in the World Cup. “It’s pure racism. Everyone in the world has the right to encourage whoever they want.”
As for the volte-face of the Qatari authorities who suddenly banned the sale of alcohol near the stadiums on Friday, it was brushed aside by the Swiss: “I personally think that we can survive without beer for three hours. And in fact, the same rules apply in France, Spain, Scotland.
‘Not a war’
He presented this decision as “joint”, and aimed at strengthening “security” while the concentration of matches in Doha – unprecedented for a tournament usually disseminated in much larger host countries – involves significant flows of supporters.
Beyond the consumption of alcohol, several associations of supporters were worried about this reversal. How can you be sure that there won’t be any on other subjects? What will happen if foreign supporters sport the rainbow colors or if couples show signs of affection, in this conservative country where homosexuality and sex outside marriage are penalized?
“Everyone is welcome, it’s our requirement,” insisted Gianni Infantino, while his communications director Bryan Swanson closed the press conference by presenting himself “as a homosexual man, here in Qatar”.
Several Western selections have repeated their intention to discuss human rights during their stay in Qatar: the English and German federations say they are ready to pay any fines imposed by FIFA, the Americans want to adorn their base camp with a flag multicolored, and the captains of eight selections intend to wear an inclusive armband.
For its part, FIFA announced Saturday “campaigns” at each stage of the tournament around slogans like #SaveThePlanet, #ProtectChildren, #EducationForAll or #NoDiscrimination, but did not clearly announce how it would react to armbands. or dissenting messages.
Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper and captain of Germany, clearly reaffirmed on Saturday that he would wear the “One love” armband in order to promote diversity and inclusion, with the support of his Federation.
“Do not divide, the world is sufficiently divided. We are organizing a World Cup, not a war,” urged Gianni Infantino, as most of the 32 teams arrived. Brazil, expected overnight from Saturday to Sunday, will be the last selection to land in Qatar, with no doubt thousands of supporters to welcome Neymar and Co.
journaldemontreal Fr Sport