Daily Management Review

Critics Of Qatar Accused Of Hypocrisy By FIFA Chief Prior To Launch Of Football World Cup


Critics Of Qatar Accused Of Hypocrisy By FIFA Chief Prior To Launch Of Football World Cup
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, stated on Saturday that engagement was the only means of advancing human rights and called hypocrites who criticized the treatment of migrant workers by World Cup host Qatar.
On the eve of the tournament, Infantino took aim at European critics of the host country over the issues of migrant workers and LGBT rights in lengthy and occasionally angry opening remarks at a news conference.
“I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons,” he said.
“I have difficulties understanding the criticism. We have to invest in helping these people, in education and to give them a better future and more hope. We should all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect but reform and change takes time.
“This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy,” he said.
“It is not easy to take the criticism of a decision that was made 12 years ago. Doha is ready, Qatar is ready and of course it will be the best World Cup ever.”
Infantino drew on his own upbringing as the offspring of migrant workers in Switzerland, saying he had endured bullying due to his ethnicity as well as his red hair and freckles.
“I know what it feels to be discriminated (against), I know what it’s like to be bullied,” he said.
“What do you do? You start engaging, this is what we should be doing... The only way of getting results is by engaging.
“I believe the changes that have happened in Qatar would maybe not have happened, or not at least at that speed, (without the World Cup). Obviously, we need to keep pressure, obviously we need to try and make things better.”
Additionally, Infantino defended Iran's participation in the competition despite the recent wave of violent protests there that were sparked by the death of a woman in police custody in September.
He asserted that it is not two regimes or two ideologies competing; rather, it is two football teams.
“If we don’t have at least football to bring us together .. which world are we going to live in? In Iran there are 80 million people, are they all bad? Are they all monsters?”
In response to Friday's decision to forbid the sale of alcoholic beer in stadiums during the competition, Infantino claimed FIFA had been unsuccessful in convincing the Qatari government to uphold the earlier decision to permit it.
We made an effort, which is why I am announcing this late change in policy," he said. He said, "We tried to see if it was possible.
Infantino claimed that the highest echelons of the Qatari government had assured him that LGBT people would be welcomed in the nation for the World Cup.
In Qatar, having same-sex relationships is against the law and is subject to a three-year prison sentence. Some soccer players have voiced concerns about the rights of spectators traveling for the event, particularly LGBT+ people and women, whom rights groups claim are subjected to discrimination under Qatari law.
The news conference ended in an unexpected way when FIFA's director of media relations, Bryan Swanson, spoke up to defend Infantino.
“I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Gianni Infantino since I’ve joined FIFA, in particular from the LGBTI community,” he said.
“I’m sitting here in a privileged position on a global stage as a gay man here in Qatar. He has received assurances that everyone will be welcome ... Just because Gianni Infantino is not gay, does not mean he does not care. He does care.”