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



CNN

FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s nearly hour-long speech ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been described as “pointless” and an “insult” to migrant workers by rights groups.

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

“What we Europeans have done for the last 3,000 years, we need to apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start teaching morals,” he said. “Reform and change take time. It took hundreds of years in our countries in Europe. It takes time everywhere, the only way to get results is by engaging … not yelling.”

The tournament, which starts on Sunday, is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East but has been mired in controversy, with much of the upsurge focusing on human rights, the deaths of migrant workers and conditions. much has endured in Qatar, for LGBTQ and women’s rights.

Infantino, despite admitting things were not perfect, said some 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: “Legitimate human rights criticism aside, Gianni Infantino is dismissing the huge price paid by migrant workers to make the tour possible. his main – as well as FIFA’s responsibility for it.

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

“If there is a glimmer of hope, it’s that Infantino announced that FIFA would set up a legacy fund after the World Cup. However, this cannot be mere window dressing. If FIFA wants to salvage something from this tournament, it should announce that it will invest a significant portion of the $6 billion that the organization will make from this tournament and ensure that this fund is used to directly compensate the workers and families of theirs.”

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

“Avoidance and whatnot 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 job for them.”

And Mustafa Qadri, chief executive of the international human rights organization Equidem, also said in a statement: “History will not judge this moment kindly. Infantino’s speech was an insult to the thousands of hardworking men and women who have made the World Cup possible.

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

“Every day workers are contacting Equidem about unpaid wages, abuse and intimidation of speaking out for fear of reprisals from employers. There is a solution here: Infantino should create a comprehensive compensation fund and ask Qatar to establish an independent migrant worker center so that workers have a safe space to raise complaints and get the support they need. they need it.

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

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

Hassan Al Thawadi — the man responsible for leading Qatar’s preparations — told CNN’s Becky Anderson last year that the Guardian’s 6,500 figure was a “sensational headline” that was misleading and that the report lacked context.

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

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

Since 2010, when Qatar was awarded the World Cup, migrant workers have faced delayed or unpaid wages, forced labour, long hours in hot weather, intimidation by employers and the inability to quit their jobs due to of the country’s sponsorship system, human rights organizations have found. .

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