Qatar World Cup: Fifa President Gianni Infantino Accuses Western Countries of ‘Hypocrisy’

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Infantino, who compared his own life experience to those of migrant workers in Qatar and to gay people around the world, opened the session by saying: “Today, I have strong feelings. 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.”

Fifa’s President Gianni Infantino has accused Western countries of “hypocrisy” in their reporting about Qatar's human rights record on the eve of the World Cup, saying they were in no position to hand down “moral lessons”.

Speaking at a news conference in Doha, Infantino made a passionate defence of Qatar and Fifa in an extraordinary diatribe, saying much of the criticism aimed at them was “profoundly unjust”, with the West guilty of double standards.

The World Cup has faced a great deal of criticism because of issues relating to the Qatari government’s treatment of migrant workers and its long history of human rights abuses, as well treatment of LGBT people, all of which have overshadowed the tournament.

In his hour-long monologue, Switzerland-born Infantino said Europe, which has been at the forefront of the criticism, should apologise for acts committed in their own histories, rather than focus on migrant workers’ issues in Qatar.

“We have been taught many lessons from Europeans and the Western world. I am European. For what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons,” he said.

The 52-year-old further continued, saying: “If Europe really cares about the destiny of these people, they can create legal channels - like Qatar did - where a number of these workers can come to Europe to work. Give them some future, some hope.

“I have difficulties understanding the criticism. We have to invest in helping these people, in education, and to give them a better future and more hope. We should all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect but reform and change take time.

“This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy. I wonder why no one recognises the progress made here since 2016... Of course, I am not Qatari, Arab, African, gay, disabled, or a migrant worker.

“But I feel like them because I know what it means to be discriminated against and be bullied as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child, I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian so imagine.”

Infantino, who is set to be re-elected unopposed for another term as Fifa chief next year, also rebuked sections of the media for relentlessly giving a negative coverage of Qatar’s preparations, adding that fans would rather read about the sport.