A day before the opening match, FIFA president Gianni Infantino defended World Cup host Qatar, accusing Western nations of double standards.
“For what we Europeans have done around the world in the last 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before preaching moral sermons to others,” the 52-year-old Valais told a news conference in Doha. It’s sad to have to experience this double standard.
“How many of these Western companies that are getting billions from Qatar here, how many of them have spoken out about the rights of migrant workers? None of them,’ Infantino said, without giving examples. “Who takes care of the workers? Who? FIFA does it, football does it, the World Cup does it and, to be fair, Qatar does too.”
Qatar has been criticized for years for its mishandling of the human rights and living conditions of foreign workers, which has also been expressed by independent organizations such as Amnesty International. The emirate government rejects it.
“I don’t understand why Qatar’s progress is not recognized,” said the FIFA president, who has a second home in Doha. “This way of wanting to give lessons unilaterally is hypocritical.”
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In his speech, Infantino assured all queer people that they are very welcome in Qatar. “It is a clear requirement of FIFA that everyone who comes here is welcome. It doesn’t matter what religion, skin color or sexual orientation you have.” The Qatari government is sticking to that, the FIFA chief stressed.
“Harsh criticism is useless”
The security and freedom of the LGBTQI+ community is one of the great and worrying issues of the World Cup, along with the living conditions of the millions of foreign workers in Qatar. According to the law, homosexuality is prohibited in the World Cup country and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Infantino emphasized that change can only be achieved through dialogue and that change takes time. “If someone believes that it is enough to criticize harshly, it is useless, it is seen as a provocation. The reaction then will be to close even more”.
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