Eleven memorable quotes from Gianni Infantino’s address in Qatar

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By Creative Media News

Today I have tremendous emotions. Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. I feel African today. Today I feel gay. Today I feel crippled. I feel like a migrant laborer today. I empathize with them because I understand what it is like to experience discrimination and bullying as a foreigner in a country. I was ridiculed at school because I had red hair and freckles.

I was bullied, and I was also Italian, so you can imagine. I didn’t speak decent German. What then do you do? You isolate yourself in your room, cry, and then attempt to make friends. You seek to engage… You don’t begin by accusing or fighting; rather, you begin by participating. This is the proper course of action.”

Eleven memorable quotes from gianni infantino's address in qatar
Eleven memorable quotes from gianni infantino's address in qatar

Infantino’s introductory words set the tone for his very lengthy talk. They are personalized and connect to his central issue of hypocrisy and the notion that “engagement” rather than confrontation is the way to affect change. The metaphor, which compares being bullied for having red hair to the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar to this day, appears frivolous but is likely sincere.

Infantino has also lumped together the experiences of exploited employees, LGBTQ+ individuals whose sexuality is banned in Qatar, and certain Qataris – particularly those at the top of society – who believe they have been unfairly criticized. This suggests a relativistic approach to a particularly delicate debate.

It is difficult to read daily critiques of decisions made 10 years ago when none of us were present. Now everyone is aware that we must make the best of the situation and create the greatest World Cup ever. Doha is prepared, Qatar is prepared, and it will be the greatest World Cup ever.”

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Eleven memorable quotes from gianni infantino's address in qatar

Infantino is correct to note that Fifa has undergone extensive personnel changes since the 2010 decision to give the World Cup to Qatar. According to research conducted by Nick Harris of the Mail on Sunday, ten of the twenty-two members of the Fifa executive committee who voted on the contract have since been banned for ethical infractions, and four more have been indicted or convicted of criminal misconduct. Infantino was not a Fifa employee at the time of the vote; he was secretary general of the European governing body, Uefa.

Let’s begin with the migratory labor force. Numerous lessons are imparted to us by Europeans and westerners. I am European. I am. Before beginning to teach people moral lessons, I believe Europeans should spend the next 3,000 years apologizing for what they’ve done in the world over the past 3,000 years.

In the year 1000 B.C., the concept of Europe did not exist, and Bronze Age civilizations were growing within the geographical borders. When 300 is substituted for 3,000, however, many European nations were colonial powers that enslaved people and exploited natural resources.

A campaign against slavery did not emerge in the United Kingdom until the late 18th century. The question of whether and to what extent current European societies are responsible for the past, and whether or not they should also engage in restitution, remains a topic of lively discussion. Again, Infantino’s critique is regarded as hypocritical.

I am not required to defend Qatar; rather, I defend football and injustice. We observe numerous government representatives entering Qatar. They all come because a country with only sand and pearls has something far more valuable: natural gas. If there were no gasoline, no one would care. Now everyone has arrived, and everyone wants something; who cares about the workers? Who? Fifa does, the World Cup does, and Qatar does as well, to be fair.”

Infantino is correct in his observation that western governments, including those of the United Kingdom and the United States, are dependent on Qatari natural gas and oil, particularly amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict. However, these governments have not criticized the World Cup; rather, it has been a coalition of unions, NGOs, journalists, and, in some instances, football authorities and players. These organizations have criticized Fifa and Qatar’s “care” for workers.

Hundreds of thousands of employees from developing nations go to Qatar, where they earn many times more [than at home] and support their families. They comply with the law. Europe has closed its borders.

Those who reach Europe or wish to reach Europe must endure a treacherous voyage to survive. If the EU truly cared about the fate of these people, the EU could do as Qatar did and develop legal pathways for at least a portion of these workers to enter the EU… give them work and a future.”

Criticism of the European Union’s treatment of refugees from outside the union is pervasive and frequently emanates from the same individuals who criticize the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. However, the European Commission asserts that 21,6 million individuals, or 4.2% of the total population, are nationals of third countries. The United Kingdom’s 2021 census revealed that 10 million English and Welsh residents were foreign-born, or 16.8% of the total population.

I wonder why nobody acknowledges the gains done since 2016 [when Infantino became president of Fifa]? The kafala system was abolished, and minimum wages and heat safeguards were implemented. ILO and unions have recognized this, but media, or certain media, do not.”

Infantino’s shift from “nobody” to “some” implies he is aware that his allegation will not hold water. In general, the media have reported on the success or lack thereof of reforms in Qatar, particularly through the study of those on the ground, such as the International Labour Organization and Amnesty International, as well as individual journalists.

The only way to achieve results is by engagement and discourse, not by hammering and insulting. What do you think your child’s response is when you tell him he’s an idiot and put him in his room after he does something wrong at school?

If you speak with him and suggest that you work together to improve your grades, he will recognize this and improve. I do not wish to impart any life lessons; rather, I want you to recognize that what is occurring here is deeply unjust.”

Different parenting techniques are still prevalent. Again, the transition from his first statement to his assertion of grave injustice is ambitious.

Numerous organizations have acknowledged that employees’ rights and safety standards are comparable to those in western Europe. Let’s see what the next decade brings.”

This seems like a bold claim. In their final update before the World Cup, Amnesty International reports that forced labor remains “unabated” in Qatar, particularly among security and domestic workers.

Amnesty reports that pay is routinely withheld from workers, while many continue to work in hazardous conditions. Building and Woodworkers International, which has been present in Qatar since 2016, reports that safety standards on World Cup sites are equal to those in western Europe, but were not reproduced across the industry.

People [in Qatar] are excited and want to applaud the arriving teams, although I read, “These people don’t appear English, so they shouldn’t shout for the English since they seem like Indians.” What exactly is that? Can someone with an Indian appearance not cheer for England, Spain, or Germany? You are aware that this is racist. This is blatant racism. They have terrible lives, as does everyone else; we want a moment where we don’t have to consider this.”

Claims that south Asians who cheered England’s arrival in Qatar were “fake fans” were false. However, the claims followed the discovery that Qatar had paid people to be enthusiastic fans during the competition. Moreover, the idea that a person who “looks Indian” could not support England is entirely distinct. Infantino may have been more revealing than intended when envisioning a way out of this situation.

[Regarding the prohibition on beer in stadiums] Every decision made during this World Cup is made jointly by Qatar and FIFA. There will be eight to ten fan zones and over 200 locations where alcohol can be purchased, so I believe that if you cannot drink beer for three hours each day, you will survive. Perhaps it’s a big deal because it’s a Muslim country; I’m not sure.

We attempted to till the very last to see if it was still possible. It’s one thing to have plans and ideas in place; it’s another to observe the flow of people traveling to different events; we have four matches on the same day, so we must ensure that people can enter and exit. Therefore, we had to decide on the beer.”

Infantino refutes the commonly held belief that Budweiser’s beer stands were removed at the request of Qatari authorities. Fifa guaranteed the sale of beer at stadiums as recently as two months ago. He may be correct, but it is undeniable that the selling of beer in stadiums was not only deemed possible but also guaranteed, just two months ago.

In September, a spokeswoman told the AFP that alcoholic beverages would be served “inside the stadium’s perimeter before kickoff and following the final whistle.” This no longer holds. VIP boxes will still serve booze, so not everyone will have to wait three hours for a beverage. The “most luxury” World Cup hospitality package, the Pearl Lounge, will cost $34,300 and include a six-course meal, welcome drinks, champagne, cocktails, a dedicated sommelier, and “guest appearances.”

If you wish to criticize, please approach me. Here I am, feel free to crucify me; I’m here for that purpose. Do not criticize Qatar, the players, or anyone else; instead, criticize Fifa and me because I am accountable for everything. How many opportunities remain to unite the world?

Do we wish to continue spitting on people because they appear or feel differently? We champion human rights. We adhere to our methodology. We achieve results. It’s a step-by-step procedure; that assists us in accomplishing more. Don’t separate, don’t split.”

Infantino’s concluding statements effectively summarise the entire speech: very personal, lyrical, and blending multiple ideas into a single seeming argument. How many World Cup detractors are “spitting” on others because “they look different”? How many “results” have been accomplished? Is “do not criticize Qatar” a request or a plea?

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