FIFA president Gianni Infantino has voiced his support for migrant workers, people living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community in his opening press conference ahead of the World Cup opening game.
He said: “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.”
“Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to 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.
“Who is actually caring about the workers? FIFA does, football does, the World Cup does and to be fair to them Qatar does as well.
“I was at an event a few days ago where we explained what we were doing at this WC for disabled people.
“400 journalists are here [for my press conference], that event was covered by 4 journalists.
“There is 1 billion disabled people in the world. Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Four journalists.”
Infantino accused the West of “hypocrisy” over their criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.
“We have been taught many many lessons by Europeans. I am European. I think what we Europeans have been doing around the world for the last three thousand years, we should be apologising for the next 3 thousand years before giving moral lessons to people.
“If Europe would really care about the destiny of these young people [migrant workers]. Europe could do as Qatar did, create some legal channels, where at least a number, a percentage of these workers could come.
“Lower revenues, but give them some hope, give them some future. This means we shouldn’t point to what doesn’t work, here in Qatar as well, of course, there are some things that don’t work that need to be addressed.
“We need to give hope to Africans so they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find, maybe, a better life but more probably death in the sea.
“We need to give opportunities and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate.”
The World Cup begins tomorrow when hosts Qatar square off against Ecuador.