The World Cup boss was branded “absolutely appalling” yesterday after ranting about feeling gay and disabled and demanding that racist Europeans apologize for colonialism.
In a bizarre outburst on the eve of the tournament, FIFA president Gianni Infantino lashed out at Qatar’s critics, calling attacks on the host country over gay rights and deaths of migrant workers “deeply unfair”. .
But he was promptly condemned for “talking nonsense” when he tried to justify the controversial decision to grant jurisdiction to Qatar, saying he was “colluding with despots.”
In Infantino’s extraordinary speech, before the opening ceremony this afternoon, he declared that he “feels disabled, gay and like a migrant worker” and knew what it was like to be discriminated against because as a child he was bullied because of his red hair and freckles. .
FIFA has been criticized for awarding the World Cup to Qatar, where being gay is illegal and thousands of migrant workers are said to have died building the stadiums.
But the 52-year-old Swiss-Italian FIFA chief, apparently referring to colonialism, raged: “I think for what we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years we should apologize.” [the] next 3,000 years before he starts giving people moral lessons.’
Infantino’s eccentric 57-minute monologue was greeted with awe at the National Convention Center in the capital Doha, and beyond with outrage and derision.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino (pictured), 52, lashed out at Qatar’s critics, calling attacks on the host country over gay rights and the deaths of migrant workers “deeply unfair.”
In Infantino’s extraordinary speech, before the opening ceremony this afternoon, he declared that he “feels disabled, gay and like a migrant worker” and knew what it was like to be discriminated against because he was bullied for his red hair and freckles when he was a child. little boy.
In what was expected to be a boring press conference on the eve of the tournament, the accumulated weight of multiple controversies suddenly seemed to break something in Infantino, who dramatically went off script to blast critics. He painted the billionaire royals who rule Qatar as a shining example to the world, urging other nations like Britain to “do as Qatar does” to allow more migrants in.
Ignoring reports of up to 15,000 immigrant deaths on World Cup construction sites and meager 35p-an-hour wages for guards, Infantino criticized European “hypocrisy” for not welcoming more immigrants into their own countries.
His astonishing lecture contrasted with his own warning earlier this month to teams to “focus on the football” and not “deliver moral lessons to the rest of the world.”
Last night, the FIFA boss was criticized from all points of the political spectrum, and England player Eric Dier was also unhappy.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said: ‘It’s absolutely appalling. I have no doubt that he was pressured by the Qataris to say this.
It has given in to their demands and is in cahoots with the tyrannical regime. FIFA is now little more than a mouthpiece for the Qatari despots. You are giving cover to a sexist, homophobic and racist dictatorship.’
Mustafa Qadri, who heads the Equidem human rights research group, added: “Infantino’s speech was an insult to the thousands of working women and men who made the World Cup possible.” Tory MP Julian Knight, who chairs the Commons’ select committee on sport, culture, media and digital, said: “Clearly FIFA has Stockholm syndrome when it comes to Qatar.”
“They are desperate to justify their decision to host a World Cup in a country the size of Yorkshire with no history of the sport.
‘This is obviously nonsense what you are saying.
“I’m sorry if the painful truth about the deaths of the migrant workers is a bit upsetting to FIFA, but they awarded the World Cup to Qatar in highly questionable circumstances and now they have to face the consequences.”
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell organized the first LGBT+ protest in Qatar on October 25 before he was forced to leave the country by the Qatari authorities.
“I think that for what we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years we should apologize for [the] next 3,000 years before I start giving moral lessons to people,’ said Infantino (pictured at the Fan Festival in Al Bidda Park)
Lee Anderson, a Conservative MP for Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, said: “As a child I had red hair and freckles. This guy needs to grow up and control himself.
“Instead of apologizing for the next 3,000 years, the rest of the world should thank the UK for leading the way. This great country of ours has been a gift to the world. Then he can ‘make one’.’
At England’s training camp, 28-year-old footballer Eric Dier did nothing to defuse the dispute when he responded to questions from the press saying: ‘A lot has happened which is disappointing. What has happened with the construction of the stadiums is a terrible situation.
“But at the end of the day we are footballers and not politicians. The World Cup was awarded in 2010, I was 16 years old at the time. I carry the values that my family has given me, but at the same time I respect where I go’.
In a thinly veiled jab at FIFA’s decision to award Qatar the tournament, he added: “It’s important to me that football is in the right hands and valued in the right way.”
At Infantino’s press conference, he defiantly suggested that pariah country Iran might one day host the World Cup as well.
When asked about the safety of gay supporters (Qatar is ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be gay), he said he and organizers had “confirmed” that “everyone is welcome.”
“I had red hair and freckles as a child. This guy needs to grow up and control himself,” said Tory MP Lee Anderson (pictured).
Describing the World Cup as a unifying force, he proclaimed: ‘Today I feel like a Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. today I feel [like] a migrant worker. Of course I’m not. . . but I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated against, to be intimidated, as a foreigner in a foreign country.
“When I was a kid, I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles. Plus I was Italian, so imagine.
His emotional tirade came after a difficult week for FIFA. On Friday, Qatar’s morality sheikhs last-minute banned beer from stadiums, leaving official sponsor Budweiser in the lurch, prompting fans to demand refunds for their expensive trips to the Gulf nation.
A video clip went viral of Sky Sports reporter Melissa Reddy, who is in Qatar, giving a furious response to the FIFA chief.
He called his speech ‘absolutely amazing’, saying: ‘You don’t know what it feels like to be gay, Infantino. You don’t know what it feels like to be disabled. Being discriminated against for red hair and freckles cannot be confused with what any of the groups he just referred to has experienced.
She called his speech “misleading, disrespectful and offensive” adding: “I think this will be the World Cup that really upholds how dirty the game is.”
Workers at the Budweiser bar at the start of the FIFA World Cup fan festival in Qatar
It is possible to find a beer in Qatar, but it takes some tenacity.
Thirsty football fans must wait until 7pm before being allowed an ‘official’ beer.
The Budweiser tent in the Fan Festival area along the Doha waterfront has around 50 coolers containing thousands of cold cans. Fans must join a zigzag queue, which last night took 35 minutes to reach the bar.
Each can is half a liter (0.88 of a pint) and costs £12. According to the restrictions established by the morality police, no one can buy more than four drinks to avoid ‘public displays of excessive drunkenness’.
But the astute followers realized that no one was checking, and it was possible to order round after round. Scott Parkes, 33, was the first England fan to get his hands on a beer. Mr Parkes, manager of a Winchester, Hampshire brewery, said of the price: “I’ll be sure to enjoy it.”
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