FIFA chief hammers Qatar critics for ‘hypocrisy,’ defends progress in improving human rights

FIFA President Gianni Infantino blasted critics of Qatar for being hypocritical, saying the host country of this year’s World Cup has made progress in improving rights of migrant workers — one of many off-field issues that have dominated the buildup to the tournament.
On Saturday, the eve of the opening kickoff, Infantino launched into an hour-long soliloquy at the start of his press conference in Doha, putting up an impassioned defense of the country that has been besieged by criticism of its human rights records.

Infantino, a Swiss native, said Europeans, of all people, have no business criticizing Qatar.
“For what Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before starting giving moral lessons to people,” Infantino said. “This moral lesson-giving — one-sided — is just hypocrisy.”
Infantino offered his support for the marginalized, saying, “Today, I feel gay. Today, I feel disabled. Today, I feel a migrant worker.”
Infantino said the International Labor Organization will open a permanent office in Doha to allow migrant workers seek help and added, “This is a real progress. I believe this is a big commitment.”
On homosexuality, which is illegal in Qatar, Infantino said every member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community will be welcome.
“Everyone’s security is granted from the highest level of the country. This is the guarantee we give and we stick to it,” he said. “I’ve been speaking about this topic with the highest leadership in this country. I can confirm that everyone that comes to Qatar is welcome, whatever their religion, race, sexual orientation. This is our requirement and Qatar sticks to that requirement.”
Bryan Swanson, FIFA’s director of media relations accompanying Infantino to the presser, offered his defense of Infantino’s support of LGBT rights.
“I am sitting here, in a privileged position, on a global stage, as a gay man here in Qatar. Just because Gianni Infantino is not gay, it does not mean he doesn’t care. He does care,” Swanson said. “You see the public side and I see the private side. We’ve spoken on a number of occasions about this. We care at FIFA about everyone. When he says that we are inclusive, he means it.”
The global football chief also said he’d rather see efforts to bring about positive changes through dialogue, not through criticism.
“Only engagement can bring real change. Don’t divide. Try to unite. The world is divided enough,” he said. “We’re not organizing a war. We’re organizing a World Cup. People want to come and enjoy it. We want to have a moment when we don’t have to think about problems, when we can concentrate on something we love, football. Problems don’t go away, but maybe we can contribute a little bit to make them a bit better.”
Infantino also stuck to his longheld stance that the World Cup should be about football and not politics or anything else not related to the sport.
“We don’t silence anyone, but it’s true that the main message is, let’s concentrate on football,” he said. “Let’s celebrate and hope we can give smiles to people around the world.”
He also sought to deflect criticism from the host country or from players for speaking their minds.
“Don’t criticize the players, don’t put pressure on players, don’t criticize Qatar,” he said. “Criticize FIFA and me, because I am responsible for everything. Let the people enjoy this World Cup.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Recent POSTS