On the day of the World Cup, Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, called Western criticism on Qatar’s human rights record “hypocritical.”
At a news conference in Doha, Infantino delivered an unusual monologue during which he vehemently defended Qatar and the event for for an hour.
The event has been overshadowed by problems in Qatar, such as the oppression of LGBT people and fatalities of migrant laborers.
Infantino, a Swiss native, argued that rather than concentrating on the problems facing migrant workers in Qatar, European countries should apologize for crimes against humanity from their own pasts.
He began by adding, “Today I’m feeling very emotional. Today, I feel African, Arab, Qatari, queer, and disabled, as well as like a migrant worker.
On Sunday at Al Bayt Stadium, hosts Qatar will play the tournament’s opening match versus Ecuador (16:00 GMT).
The Guardian reported in February 2021 that since Qatar’s victorious World Cup bid, 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have perished there.
The amount is based on data provided by the embassies of the nations in Qatar.
The Qatari government, however, claimed that the figure was inaccurate since not all of the fatalities reported were workers engaged in World Cup-related activity.
Only three of the 37 deaths of workers at World Cup stadium construction sites between 2014 and 2020, according to the government’s accident data, were “work-related.”
The International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that this was an understatement.
We have learned a lot from Europeans and the Western world, according to Infantino. I’m from Europe. Before imparting moral lessons, we should apologize for what we have been doing for the past 3,000 years over the world.
“If Europe truly cared about the fate of these individuals, they might establish legal pathways — like Qatar did — for some of these workers to immigrate to Europe and find employment. Give them some hope for the future.
“I find it challenging to comprehend the critique. We must make investments in these people’s welfare, education, and future in order to give them more hope. We should everyone pursue our own education. There are many imperfect things, but reform and improvement take time.
“This moral lesson is biased and hypocritical. Why hasn’t anyone noticed the improvements since 2016?
“It is difficult to accept the criticism of a choice made 12 years ago. Qatar is equipped. The World Cup will be the best one ever.
“Qatar doesn’t need me to protect them; they can stand up for themselves. I support football. Qatar has advanced, and I also sense many other things.
Without a doubt, I am not African, Arab, or Qatari, nor am I LGBT, disabled, or a migrant worker. However, I identify with them because I understand what it’s like to face prejudice and bullying as a foreigner in a new land.
“I experienced bullying as a child due to my red hair and freckles. That led to bullying of me.
Later on Saturday, English defender Eric Dier said: “I was 16 when Qatar was given the World Cup in 2010. The location of our games is not up to us as players. These selections are made higher than us.
We’re in a challenging circumstance. Through the event, it will be a challenge for each team and player. It is depressing.
Qatar boss Felix Sanchez said: “A lot has been said about this, some misinformation and some of the comments were not completely fair. The loss of human life during working hours is the greatest tragedy, whether here in Qatar or anywhere in the world.
“Let’s hope that during this World Cup, we can all work together to improve the circumstances for these groups, not just in Qatar but all across the world,” said the speaker.
Following consultations with the government and the ILO, Infantino announced a “dedicated and permanent office” in Doha as a response to pressure on Qatar to construct a center for migrant workers.
Additionally, he stated that any worker who has an accident “receives compensation by law.”
He continued, “Depending on the amount, it may be several years of income.”
Infantino signed a contract that will assist 25 million children and women in India and added that Fifa’s Qatar 2022 legacy fund will go toward education.