FIFA president defends Qatar from Western ‘hypocrisy’
By Anadolu Agency
FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Saturday defended Qatar from what he called Western “hypocrisy” amid criticism of the Gulf country’s hosting of World Cup 2022.
The global tournament is set to open in Qatar on Sunday and last through Dec. 18.
Doha has come under growing European criticisms over an alcohol ban in the stadium stands and migrant workers’ rights.
"There will be … over 200 places where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and over 10 fan zones, where over 100,000 people can simultaneously drink alcohol," Infantino said, "I think personally, if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive."
"Working circumstances in Qatar are superior to those of European immigrants," Infantino told a news conference in the Qatari capital.
"Europe should stop the criticism and focus on improving its migrants' conditions,” he said.
"What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons.”
Infantino told reporters that he knew what it felt like to be discriminated against and added: "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."
"Of course I am not Qatari. Of course I am not an Arab. I am not African. I am not gay. I am not disabled. I feel like it because I know what it means to be discriminated against, 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."
The FIFA president stressed that Qatar is a sovereign state and does not need recommendations from outside over workers' rights.
"I am proud of everyone who contributed to this event,” Infantino said.
* Writing by Ahmed Asmar, update by Selcuk Bugra Gokalp