FIFA president hits out at criticism of Qatar hosting World Cup
FIFA president Gianni Infantino hit out at criticism of Qatar from Europe on the eve of the World Cup.
The game’s global governing body has been attacked for its decision to take the finals to Qatar, where the treatment of migrant workers and the rights of LGBTQ+ people have been in the spotlight.
Ahead of the opening game of the tournament on Sunday, Infantino said: “We have told many, many lessons from some Europeans, from the western world.
“I think for what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years we should be apologising for next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.”
Infantino added: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel (like) a migrant worker.
“Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian so imagine.
“What do you do then? You try to engage, make friends. Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing.”
Meanwhile, FIFA has launched a new captain’s armband on the eve of the World Cup, with a group of nations including England and Wales already intending to wear their own anti-discrimination version.
Captains of nine European nations, including England’s Harry Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale, will wear the OneLove armbands in Qatar, a country which criminalises same-sex relationships.
A release from FIFA issued on Saturday morning confirmed it was partnering with the United Nations agencies to run social campaigns throughout the tournament, with a different campaign for each round.
The quarter-final theme will be “no discrimination”.
The Football Association of Wales and other members of the working group who are committed to wearing the OneLove banner were already due to meet on Saturday, and it is understood the group will seek clarity on this latest move from FIFA.
The FA has not received any response from FIFA to its request last month for permission to wear the OneLove armband, but its chief executive Mark Bullingham has since said England are prepared to be fined for wearing it.
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