FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been criticized for speaking out about human rights in Qatar ahead of the World Cup



CNN

FIFA President Gianni Infantino A speech that lasted nearly an hour on the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was described as “rude” and “insulting”. migrant workers by human rights groups.

In an explosive monologue at the start of a press conference in Doha, Infantino – the president of FIFA – accused Western critics of Qatar’s human rights record of hypocrisy.

“What we Europeans were doing 3,000 years ago, we must apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons,” he said. “Reform and change takes time. It took hundreds of years in our countries in Europe. It takes time everywhere, and the only way to get results is by sharing…not shouting.”

The tournament, which kicks off 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 crowd focused on human rights, from the deaths of migrant workers and conditions. Many of them have suffered in Qatar, for the LGBT community and for women’s rights.

Although Infantino admitted things weren’t perfect, some of the criticism was “very unfair” and West was accused of double standards.

Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International, said in a statement statement: Ignoring legitimate criticism of human rights, Gianni Infantino rejects the heavy price paid by migrant workers to make his major tournament possible – as well as FIFA’s responsibility for it.

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

“If there is even a tiny glimmer of hope, it is that Infantino has announced that FIFA will establish a legacy fund after the World Cup. However, this cannot be just window dressing. If FIFA wants to salvage anything from this tournament, it must announce that it will invest a significant portion Of the 6 billion dollars that the organization will earn from this tournament and make sure that this fund is used to directly compensate workers and their families.

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

“Deflection and obfuscation have always been at the heart of Qatar’s PR efforts to defend its failings in the ranks, and now they have the FIFA President doing their work for them.”

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

He had the perfect opportunity to acknowledge that thousands of women and men from the poorest countries have come to the richest only to face deception, exploitation and discrimination.

Every day workers contact Equidem about non-payment of wages, abuse and fear of speaking out for fear of employer retaliation. There is a solution here: Infantino should create a comprehensive compensation fund and ask Qatar to create an independent center for migrant workers so that workers have a safe space to file complaints and get the support they need.”

The Guardian reported last year that 6,500 South Asian migrant workers have died in Qatar since the country won the World Cup in 2010, most of them involved in low-paid and dangerous work, often done in sweltering conditions.

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

Hassan al-Thawadi — the man responsible for leading the Qatari preparations — told CNN correspondent Becky Anderson last year that the Guardian’s figure of 6,500 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 in stadiums and 37 non-work-related deaths. The official said in a statement that the Guardian’s figures were “inaccurate” and “deeply misleading”.

Eight new stadiums were built out of the desert, and the Gulf state expanded its airport and built new hotels, railways and highways. It’s all been built by migrant workers, who – according to Amnesty International – account for 90% of the workforce in its nearly three million inhabitants.

Since 2010, when Qatar won the World Cup, migrant workers have faced delayed or unpaid wages, forced labor, long hours in hot weather, employer intimidation, and the inability to leave their jobs due to the country’s sponsorship system, human rights organizations have found.

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