FIFA President Gianni Infantino blasted Western critics of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, accusing them of hypocrisy.
Qatar has faced significant criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, as well as for discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ individuals. Rights groups have also pointed to unfair trials and limits on press freedom.
In a press conference on Saturday, the FIFA chief said: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker.”
Accusing the critics of double standards, Infantino said: “I think for what we Europeans have been doing in the last 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years, before starting to give moral lessons to people.”
The FIFA boss said he faced discrimination in Europe as a child. “I am [the] son of migrant workers — my parents were working very, very hard, in very, very difficult conditions — not in Qatar, in Switzerland,” he said.
“I know,” he added, “what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied as a foreigner.”
Infantino said he raised the issue of migrant workers with the local authorities in his first meeting with them, accusing European companies of not doing the same.
“How many of these European or Western business companies, who earn millions and millions from Qatar or other countries in the region — billions every year — how many of them have addressed migrant workers’ rights with the authorities? I have the answer to you: none of them,” Infantino said.
But, he said, “we did.”