Gianni Infantino’s letter about the World Cup is lamentable, irrational and dumbfoundingly stupid

So, just two weeks before the World Cup, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura descended on Qatar’s competing football federations.

The email was leaked to the Sky News website within three hours of arriving at 7pm (UK time) on Thursday night.

“Please let’s focus on football now.” Infantino and Samoura demanded.

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The duo continued: “We know that football does not live in a vacuum and equally we know that there are many challenges and difficulties in a political sense all over the world.

“But don’t allow the ball to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”

So the message is clear. head down know your place Be quiet and stick to your feet.

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For those unfortunate enough to see Infantino for a living; The new limits of football’s transformative power may come as a surprise.

for example, Contrast that with a moment earlier this year that can only be described as Peak Infantino. Davos on stage; Swiss Alpine Resort and the World Economic Forum in May. For the uninitiated, Davos is the kind of self-important hellscape created for Infantino, the richest and most privileged man in the world.

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The FIFA website followed up Infantino’s appearance with the headline “FIFA President: Could change the world of football”.


Putin and Infantino at the last World Cup (Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

“(Nelson) Mandela said that sport can change the world,” Infantino said. can motivate, can be united And he was right. Soccer has a unique goal as the most popular sport in the world.”

After more than five months, Infantino’s revolutionary zeal seems to have left him. Thursday night’s letter did not directly address the most controversial aspects of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, particularly the treatment of migrant workers who build stadiums. Including gay laws that threaten the safety of gay+ Qatari citizens and visitors. There is no need to mention the women who are currently protesting in the country, as FIFA asked them to take a stand against Iran, whose drones support Russia in its crackdown on Ukrainian territory.

But the letter seems to strongly hint that it would be unwise for the League to focus on such matters.

The letter reads: “At FIFA, we strive to respect all views and beliefs, without imparting moral lessons to the entire world.

“One of the world’s great strengths is indeed its diversity; If integration means anything, it means respecting those differences. No race or culture or nation is superior to others.

“This principle is the foundation of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is one of the core values ​​of football. So let’s remember everything and focus on the football field.”

At this point it might be useful to remind Infantino how the world works. When he implored football not to be “dragged into any ideological battle”. He may need to say that homosexuality is not an ideology. How a person is born It is within us. Who are we? Who am I? If a person’s sexuality is accepted as innate; If we accept that it is nature rather than nurture. It is clearly recognized that it is irrational to criticize or criminalize a person for their sexuality.

But Infantino’s words seem to argue that the “participation” of respecting homosexuality is of equal value to the “participation” of respecting the criminalization of homosexuality.

This argument seems to imply that true tolerance is tolerance of violent and dangerous intolerance. That is, The world view of two loving women who are married and raise children together, e.g. Of equal value to Salah Al-Yafei. This man describes himself as an “educational consultant” at Qatar’s Aspire Academy, which brings together some of Qatar’s most talented sports stars. He has 60,000 followers on Instagram, and in a recent video he says, “When confronted with the open promotion of homosexuality, your disapproval of your behavior has a huge impact on children, and it sends a message that it’s inconsistent and something we’re not okay with. It’s not acceptable.” This is life shaming gay people in Qatar, where homophobic rhetoric treats one’s natural state as an illness to be suppressed at best or, at worst, cured.

Two weeks after the tournament, Infantino’s words to broadcasters; the media, Federations and journalists have gone down like a bucket of cold sores with those who believe they should have the freedom to scrutinize the hosts of the world’s most famous sports event. Therefore, It’s not only sad content, but also stupid as a strategy, and will alienate those who want to stay on FIFA’s side for the next few weeks.


The FA’s One Love logo, which does not specifically call for discrimination (Photo: Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images)

However, in practice, those who give to Qatar are eager to protect their relationships, often doing the country more harm than good. for example, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly recently told a radio station that British LGBT+ people visiting Doha during the World Cup should “compromise and compromise”. It is hard to resist the conclusion that Cleverly’s gentle apology is a result of the close entanglement of British economic interests in Qatar. Whether it was British contracts or British RAF aircraft associated with the competition. To protect the skies or £6 billion worth of Typhoon jets, Britain has sold Qatar in recent years. In that context, the crisis of LGBT+ people in Qatar seems to be an afterthought.

The truth is that it remains a footnote to the sport. for example, It should be remembered that when Qatar was awarded this tournament in 2010, the Premier League was still several years away from its annual Rainbow Laces campaign; The competition was introduced only after a publicity stunt dragged it out and screamed; According to subscriber Paddy Power. In recent years, As the World Cup approaches, most national confederations have done nothing to ease the anxiety of the situation for LGBT+ Qatari and traveling fans. For example, the English Football Association signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar FA and the Chancellor’s Committee on Delivery and Succession, named after Orwellian. Greg Clarke, then chairman of the English FA, announced the relationship while posing in front of a football match. For all” logo — after full consultation with English LGBT+ football fans. That message remains to this day.

Since then, Qatari authorities have offered a record number of years to reassure LGBT+ citizens or visitors. While vague phrases like “everyone are welcome” are often spoken, visitors insist that Qatari culture must be respected. To get people like me to go to the competition. There is uncertainty over the meaningful position of the state on key issues. for example, I should write about LGBT+ issues while I’m on the ground in Doha next month. In the absence of Qatar’s clarity. Football executives at the English FA remain in the absurd position of speaking on behalf of a different state law enforcement agency.

In late September, we heard from Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the English FA, that there would be no prosecutions of LGBT+ couples in Qatar. “They gave us absolutely all the right answers to everything we said,” Bullingham praised the contest’s host.

When we step back from the surrealism of this tournament, isn’t it absolutely amazing that a football organization is telling us how a country intends to apply its disciplinary code when it’s too reluctant to talk about such things for its own country? And then this guaranteed landing in September, eight weeks before the race, seemed pointless. English gays have been waiting 12 years for tickets to Qatar’s courtesy of the FA Cup after 12 years of nodding off and starting stockpiling tickets two months later. The World Cup has started.

If Bullingham is so confident of the host’s welcome. Why does England (another European country) propose a statement in support of LGBT+ people in a competition with only one wristband with the slogan “One Love”? It features an unmistakable rainbow color design, commonly recognized as a symbol of the LGBT+ community. If the hosts are very generous and open to dialogue. Why doesn’t it mention “gay rights” or call out Qatar’s homosexuality laws? Why don’t these freedom fighter federations clearly recognize the people they want to stand for?

A possible solution to the tension in which a gay man in Qatar was lured to a hotel room via a dating app and found Qatari officials waiting to pounce on his arrival appeared in the I newspaper on Thursday. Before arresting him, they raped him, the report said.

Anyway, as Gianni says, back to football everyone.

(Top photo: Stephen McCarthy – FIFA / FIFA via Getty Images)



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