WSJ - The president of soccer’s global governing body, Gianni Infantino, on Saturday defended Qatar’s right to host the World Cup, breaking months of silence on the country’s human rights record by hitting back at those who he said were giving lectures on morality.
In an hour-long monologue on the eve of the tournament’s opening game, Infantino argued that Qatar’s critics had failed to recognize the country’s progress on workers’ rights, accused the West of “hypocrisy,” defended Iran’s participation in the tournament, and suggested hosting tournaments in Iran and North Korea to provoke social change.
“I think for what we Europeans have been doing the past 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people,” Infantino, a Swiss lawyer who has spent more than 20 years in soccer administration, said in a broad reference to European countries’ history of colonization.
In the 12 years since Qatar won the hosting rights to this World Cup, the tournament has become one of the most controversial sporting events in history. For the tiny emirate organizing the first World Cup in the Arab world, issues included Qatar’s treatment of the migrant workers it relied on to build roads, stadiums, and hotels and the country’s laws banning homosexuality. But Infantino argued that much of the criticism from the West boiled down to racism when in fact the World Cup should promote unity.
“Today I feel Qatari,” Infantino said as he opened his news conference here. “Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker.” Infantino is none of those, but sought to show solidarity with a broad group of constituencies. He also renewed his request for fans and players to focus on soccer. Less than a month ago, he sent a letter to all 32 qualified teams asking that they “not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”
Yet even Infantino, who routinely rubs elbows with presidents and dictators around the world, couldn’t resist a foray into politics as he explained how soccer could be an agent of change. “This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy,” Infantino added. “If you want to criticize someone, criticize me, you can crucify me. I’m here for that… Don’t criticize Qatar.”
Oh, buddy boy. Just stop.
You already head an organization that has zero credibility whatsoever, so the deck is stacked well against you. Dragging the west into this, calling us all hypocrites, to defend a regime still living in the stone age, isn't going to do you any favors.
Reags has done a masterful job covering pretty much every detail leading up to the World Cup-
Including today's AWFULLY officiated USMNT debut which ended in a draw
This press conference occurred over the weekend, and I honestly thought the headline I saw, quoted above, was an Onion article. When I watched the video I was in disbelief. For somebody to be this fucking out of touch is remarkable.
Where has this clown been the last 12 years?
Is he aware FIFA is seen nowadays as basically a criminal organization?
To act this indignant, in the face of all the skepticism is a BOLD strategy. They say the best defense is a good offense, and that's exactly what this mamaluke did here.
Last I checked, I've never heard of anybody in the middle east being thrown off a building as "punishment" for having red hair. They do do that if you're gay though.
Qatar’s team had never qualified for a World Cup. EVER. Soccer there, is like cricket here. Niche as fuck. FIFA also awarded hosting duties to them despite the nation being regarded as a “high-security risk,” not to mention a lack of sufficient infrastructure at the time and the brutal summer temperatures, which required the game to be rescheduled to this month, for the first time in its history.
And that’s before we even come to the human rights issues.
Gianni Infantino, who earns more than $250,000 a month, saying he feels "like a migrant worker", in a country where migrant workers who built the stadiums and infrastructure in record time for this World Cup have been paid as little as .75 cents per hour, if they have been paid at all. Staggeringly tone-deaf.
According to Amnesty International, 1.7 million migrant workers are in Qatar for the World Cup. Many live in terrible squalor, and have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to the city just to be able to work there.
Netflix did an amazing 4 part documentary on Blatter, and the corruption that has plagued FIFA basically since its inception.
It's called "FIFA Uncovered," and it's definitely worth the watch.
It all but confirms that this year's World Cup was supposed to go to the United States before Qatar started throwing even more money around, everywhere, to lock up the vote.
One of the craziest parts showed just how slimy and corrupt France's Nicolas Sarkozy was, not just in regards to the Qatar vote but also how blatant the whole thing was. In exchange for lobbying votes for Qatar, he landed a pretty heavy political favor in the form of Qatar buying PSG. The blatant part, where he insulted everybody's intelligence, was letting this occur just days after the vote for the World Cup. Same with the planes purchased by the Qatari government. It goes to show that politicians are politicians no matter where they're from. Scum.
The craziest part of the whole thing was that Sepp Blatter has never been criminally charged for this (or more so, they couldn’t get anything on him apart from the Platini payment). Watching the documentary shows that in his interviews, he is still every bit as delusional as he was when he was in charge.
He views himself as a Christ-like figure, who brought peace around the globe and did absolutely nothing wrong. It's wild.
John Oliver DESTROYED FIFA for the debacle that was the Brazilian World Cup.
Then he roasted them again last week, over Qatar
The only silver lining for me is that Qatar has clearly tried to use the World Cup to paint itself in a good light and increase its soft power, and it has backfired horribly as they are drowning in awful PR.
Everybody's heard about the beer and alcohol debacle. Just yesterday Iran's team staged a protest of their own government's mistreatment of its citizens, and its record of terrible human rights violations.
But where are the protests for what's going on in Qatar at? Anybody wearing anything even remotely resembling a rainbow has been detained, stripped of the item, or threatened with punishment. These stadiums and pitches these games are occurring in/on are said to cost the lives of 6,500 migrant workers.
But this guy can relate because when he was a kid he had red hair. Capiche?
For people more interested in this entire thing, there's a podcast series called "Lords Of Soccer" which has done a deep dive on this entire thing and is getting tons of praise. Rightfully so. I've listened to the World Cup Of Shame parts 1 & 2 so far and these guys have spoken to people on the inside of this with knowledge so damning it's really disappointing that civilized countries in the west didn't band together to protest this tournament and stay at home, to force FIFA's hand, rather than capitulating.