Gianni Infantino
  1. Giessen General
  2. Sports
  3. Football

Created: Updated:

FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the press conference. © Tom Weller/dpa

Gianni Infantino prepares himself for the big World Cup stage. One day before the opening game, the FIFA President made a big leap – and sided with Qatar.

Al-Rajjan – Gianni Infantino’s remarkable justification on theatrical stage lasted almost exactly an hour.

The day before the opening game, the FIFA President denounced a “double standard” from the West against World Cup hosts Qatar, defended the emirate against practically all allegations, including independent institutions, praised progress – and ended his speech beggingly. “Let’s please, please, celebrate this World Cup and hope to make people around the world smile,” Infantino said. The bottom line is that football is ultimately there for that.

Again and again, the Swiss changed the speed of his speech, built in small pauses, once he picked up the football placed in front of him on the podium in the large hall of the Qatar National Convention Center. “It’s the only weapon we have,” he said. His messages on the difficult issues of human rights, migrant workers, freedom for the LGBTQI+ community have long felt cobbled together. “The world is divided enough, a World Cup is a World Cup, it’s not a war,” said Infantino. “We have to take a critical look at ourselves in the mirror.”

FIFA boss denounces “double standards”.

Qatar had been heavily criticized in recent years, especially from western nations. For Infantino, who related his own story as the son of a guest worker family in Switzerland, in a “hypocritical” way. “I think what we Europeans have done worldwide over the past 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start distributing moral advice to others,” said the 52-year-old. It is “sad” to have to experience this “double standard”.

As never before in recent months, the FIFA President sided with the government of the country in which he has had a secondary residence for a long time. “Who takes care of the workers? Who? FIFA does it, football does it, the World Cup does it – and, to be fair, Qatar does it too,” he said, referring, among other things, to a planned office of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Doha.

“How many of these Western companies that are receiving billions from Qatar here – how many of them have spoken out about migrant workers’ rights? None of them,” Infantino said, without giving examples. The compensation fund for workers and their families from South Asia, also demanded by the German Football Association, already exists, albeit in a different form, initiated by Qatar. He was “convinced” that the World Cup could help to “open people’s eyes”.

FIFA President reports personal hostilities

Homosexuality is forbidden in Qatar, but that has been the case in European countries for a long time, argued Infantino, referring to an ongoing development process. He had received clear assurances that “everyone and everyone” was welcome to the World Cup in Qatar. One of the local World Cup ambassadors recently described being gay as “mental damage” in a ZDF documentary. That’s not “the attitude of the country,” Infantino said, without specifically addressing the statement.

The FIFA President briefly reported personal hostilities, and his spokesman, former British Sky journalist Bryan Swanson, jumped to his side at the end of the press conference. “There was a lot of criticism from the LGBTQ community as well. I’m sitting here as a gay man and we received this guarantee,” said the 42-year-old. FIFA takes care of everyone. “I have some gay colleagues.”

Infantino’s bizarre opening words

Infantino started his press conference with: “Today I feel very strong feelings, today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African. Today I feel homosexual. Today I feel disabled, today I feel like a migrant worker.” Infantino apologized for not having mentioned feeling like a woman, saying: “I have four daughters.”

Infantino avoided a clear statement as to whether the captains of the World Cup participants could wear an armband in the rainbow colors symbolic of the LGBTQ community. FIFA is something “universal and we have to find issues that everyone can identify with,” he said. LGBT is the English abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The variants LGBTQ, LGBTQI or LGBTQIA+ are also often used. Each letter represents one’s gender identity or sexual orientation. dpa

Leave a Reply