FIFA boss Gianni Infantino criticized for speech on Qatar’s human rights ahead of World Cup


FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s nearly hour-long speech on the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was described by human rights groups as “insane” and an “insult” to migrant workers.

In an explosive monologue at the start of a press conference in Doha, Infantino – head of soccer’s world governing body – accused Western critics of Qatar’s human rights record of hypocrisy.

“What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons,” he said. “Reforms and changes take time. In our countries in Europe, it took hundreds of years. Everything takes time, the only way to get results is to engage…not shout.

The tournament, which starts on Sunday, is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, but it has been mired in controversy, with much of the event focused on human rights, from the deaths and conditions of migrant workers. many have passed in Qatar, LGBTQ and women’s rights.

Infantino, while admitting things were not perfect, said some of the criticism was “deeply unfair” and accused the West of double standards.

Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said in a statement: “Abandoning legitimate human rights criticism, Gianni Infantino rejects the huge price paid by migrant workers to make his flagship tournament possible, as well as FIFA’s responsibility for it.

He added that “demands for equality, respect and compensation cannot be seen as some kind of culture war – they are universal human rights that FIFA has committed to in its statutes.

“If there is any glimmer of hope, Infantino announced that FIFA will set up a legacy fund after the World Cup. However, this cannot be mere window dressing. If FIFA is to salvage anything from this tournament, it must announce that it will invest a significant portion of the 6 billions of dollars that the organization will earn from this tournament and will ensure that this fund is used to directly compensate employees and their families.

Nicholas McGeehan, director of the non-profit human rights organization FairSquare, said in a statement: “Infantino’s comments were as rude as they were clumsy and suggest that the FIFA president is getting his talking points directly from the Qatari authorities.

“Resignation and insanity have always been at the heart of Qatar’s public relations efforts to defend their ranking failures, and now the FIFA president is doing his part for them.”

The executive director of the international human rights organization Equidem, Mustafa Kadri, also said in his statement: “History will not judge this moment kindly. Infantino’s speech was an insult to the thousands of hard-working women and men who have made the World Cup possible.

“He had a great opportunity to acknowledge that thousands of women and men from the poorest countries came to the richest, only to face deception, exploitation and discrimination.

“Every day, workers contact Equidem about unpaid wages, abuse and are afraid to speak up for fear of reprisals from employers. Here’s a solution: Infantino should create a comprehensive compensation fund and require Qatar to establish an independent migrant worker center so workers have a safe place to lodge complaints and get the support you need.

The Guardian reported last year that 6,500 South Asian migrant workers had died in Qatar since the country was awarded the World Cup in 2010, most of them involved in low-paid, dangerous work often done in extreme heat.

The report did not attribute all 6,500 deaths to World Cup infrastructure projects and has not been independently verified by CNN.

Hassan Al Thawadi – the man in charge of Qatar’s preparations – told CNN’s Becky Anderson last year that The Guardian 6500 was a “sensational headline” that was misleading and that the report lacked context.

A government official told CNN that there have been three work-related deaths and 37 non-work-related deaths at the stadiums. In a statement, the official said The Guardian’s figures were “inaccurate” and “wildly misleading”.

Eight new stadiums rose from the desert, and the Gulf state expanded its airport, built new hotels, railways and highways. All of this would have been built by migrant workers who, according to Amnesty International, make up 90% of the nearly three million population.

Since Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010, migrant workers have faced delayed or unpaid wages, forced labour, long hours in hot weather, intimidation by employers and the inability to quit because of the state’s sponsorship system, human rights groups have revealed. .


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