Amnesty International has reacted to the FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s comments, lambasting the Western critics of Qatar’s human rights record over what he termed as “hypocrisy and double moral standards.”
Infantino’s remarks triggered response from the rights group, accusing the FIFA chief of “brushing aside legitimate criticism.”
Amnesty stated, “Gianni Infantino is dismissing the enormous price paid by migrant workers to make his flagship tournament possible – as well as FIFA’s responsibility for it.
“Demands for equality, dignity and compensation cannot be treated as some sort of culture war.”
Recall that Infantino had, on Saturday, made a fierce defence of the World Cup in the Gulf state on the eve of the kick-off at a his opening press conference in Doha, Qatar, the tournament’s host nation.
The FIFA chief, Infantino – a 52-year-old Swiss-Italian – stated that the Western countries are not in a position to criticize Qatar’s poor treatment of LGBT+ communities and migrant workers.
In a forceful attack on critics of Qatar, Infantino stated, “This moral lesson-giving — one-sided — is just hypocrisy.
“I don’t want to give you any lessons of life, but what is going on here is profoundly, profoundly unjust.”
The global football supremo further stated, “What is sad is that, especially in the last weeks, we have been witnessing, in some places, a real lesson of double moral [standards],” Infantino said.
“I’m European. I think for what we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons to people.”
Infantino, however, stopped short of defending the policies of the Qatari government, emphasizing that, under his leadership, FIFA required protections of migrant workers and LGBT+ visitors in exchange for awarding the football competition to the country.
“Everyone who comes to Qatar is welcome, whatever religion, race, sexual orientation, or belief she or he has. Everyone is welcome. This was our requirement and the Qatari state sticks to that requirement.”
In an emotional attempt to placate criticism, Infantino then referred back to his childhood to try and put across the point that fighting discrimination was important to him. He discussed how he was bullied in school for being a foreigner and a redhead.
“Today, I feel Qatari. Today, I feel Arab. Today, I feel African. Today, I feel gay. Today, I feel disabled. Today, I feel like a migrant worker.”
Another issue that has dominated the build-up to the tournament is the sale of beer in the Islamic state, which severely restricts alcohol consumption.
Organisers on Friday performed a dramatic U-turn, banning beer sales around stadiums just 48 hours before kickoff.
Infantino made light of the last-minute change on Saturday.
“I think personally if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, there were hints of another brewing controversy over the decision of several players — including England captain Harry Kane and German skipper Manuel Neuer — to wear a “OneLove” armband to promote diversity and inclusion.
The move raises the prospect of disciplinary action from FIFA, who on Saturday revealed plans to make their own alternative armbands available to teams. The FIFA armbands will feature a different social campaign for each round.
Neuer said however that he intends to wear the rainbow-coloured “OneLove” armband.
“Other European nations are wearing (the armband) and it is good we are doing it together,” he said.