Speed Reads

Sparking Backlash

FIFA president defends World Cup in Qatar despite country's human rights record

The day before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino decried Western criticism of the event, despite the country's poor record on human rights, NPR reported. 

During a press conference to mark the opening of the games, Infantino launched into what was described as a "blistering tirade," accusing the media of hypocrisy in their coverage of Qatar. 

"I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons," Infantino said, though he did not elaborate on these comments. 

Infantino also said he did not understand the criticism of Qatar, further saying, "We should all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect, but reform and change takes time."

Ever since its selection in 2010, the choice of Qatar as the games' host has generated significant criticism, mainly due to the country's alleged repression of significant human rights. According to Amnesty International, "Qatar's authorities repress freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of association ... and laws continue to discriminate against LGBT individuals." The Guardian additionally reported that up to 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar during the construction of World Cup facilities. 

Infantino's comments generated swift backlash, with Amnesty International saying in a statement, "Infantino is dismissing the enormous price paid by migrant workers to make his flagship tournament possible. Demands for equality, dignity, and compensation cannot be treated as some sort of culture war."