In a fiery defence of the World Cup in the Gulf state on the eve of the start, FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Saturday slammed the “hypocrisy” of Western critics of Qatar’s human rights record.
To the obvious annoyance of the tournament’s organizers, worries about how Qatar treats migrant workers, women, and the LGBTQ community have dominated the build-up to the competition.
Officials from Qatar claim that their nation has been the victim of “racism” and “double standards,” and they mention the reforms to working conditions and safety that have been hailed as ground-breaking in the region.
Just one day before the tournament’s opening match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador, football once more took a backseat on Saturday as the focus was squarely on off-field politics.
At his first press conference for the tournament in Doha, Infantino had harsh words for those who had criticised Qatar.
The head of world football declared that this one-sided moral instruction was hypocritical.
I don’t want to teach you any life lessons, but what is happening here is utterly, utterly unjust.
Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, responded angrily to Infantino’s comments, accusing him of “brushing aside legitimate criticism.”
Amnesty International claimed that FIFA president Gianni Infantino was “dismissing the enormous price paid by migrant workers to make his flagship tournament possible.”
Demands for equality, respect, and payment cannot be viewed as a form of cultural conflict.
The sale of beer in Qatar, which severely restricts alcohol consumption, has been another topic that has dominated the tournament’s build-up.
Just 48 hours before kickoff, organisers made a dramatic U-turn on Friday and banned beer sales near stadiums.
On Saturday, Infantino made light of the last-minute change.
I personally believe that you can survive without drinking beer for three hours a day, he said.
The decision of several players, including English captain Harry Kane and German captain Manuel Neuer, to wear a “OneLove” armband to support diversity and inclusion raised the possibility of another controversy elsewhere on Saturday.
The action increases the possibility of disciplinary action from FIFA, who on Saturday revealed plans to provide teams with their own alternate armbands. For each round, a different social campaign will be featured on the FIFA armbands.
Neuer did reveal his intention to don the “OneLove” armband, which is coloured in a rainbow of hues.
It’s good that we are doing it together because other European countries are wearing the armband, he said.