Gianni Infantino has hit back at critics of FIFA and the Qatar World Cup in a bizarre press conference on the eve of the tournament.
The FIFA president said that he ‘felt like a migrant worker’ and claimed it was hypocritical of European countries to direct such scrutiny towards the World Cup hosts, announcing: “I think for what we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.”
He began his hour-long speech saying: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. 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, 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 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. What do you do then? You try to engage, make friends. Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing.”
His comments come as FIFA remain under a barrage of attacks for their decision to take the tournament to Qatar, where there have been continual questions over the country’s human rights record and stance on LGBTQ+ individuals.
Infantino ended with a request to the gathered media: “You want to criticise. You can crucify me. I’m here for that. Don’t criticise anyone. Don’t criticise Qatar. Let people enjoy this World Cup.”