FIFA boss attacks ‘hypocrisy’ of the West in bizarre rant

FIFA’s boss has launched a bizarre tirade on the eve of the World Cup, hitting back at the West’s “hypocrisy” over human rights and talking of being bullied for having red hair and freckles as a child.

Gianni Infantino, president of football’s governing body, spoke for nearly an hour and appeared exhausted as he gave a passionate defence of the tournament in Qatar.

In an astonishing rant to media, the embattled Mr Infantino seemed to be saying he identified with migrant workers, gay, disabled and other minorities.

He also defended FIFA’s last-minute decision to ban beer at World Cup stadiums, saying football fans should be able to survive three hours without a tipple.

The FIFA boss has been continuously forced to defend the tournament host amid strong condemnation Qatar’s human rights record, especially in relation to migrant workers and LGTBQ rights.

An expose by The Guardian revealed 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since its successful World Cup bid.

Human rights groups say thousands of migrant workers died in building infrastructure in Qatar to ready for the cup which is the first to be staged in the Middle East.

Mr Infantino opened his address saying: “Today I have strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel a migrant worker.”

Mr Infantino said he related to Qatar’s migrant workers because he was bullied as a child for his looks.

“I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country,” he told reporters.

“As a child I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian, so imagine. What do you do then?

“You try to engage, make friends. Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing.”

Qatar has been a controversial choice to host the World Cup. Photo: Getty

Mr Infantino barely spoke about the game of soccer as he appeared to liken his own experience as a migrant to the treatment of gay people in Qatar.

Mr Infantino was born in Switzerland to Italian immigrant parents.

He moved to Doha to temporarily live in October last year ahead of football’s showcase tournament which kicks off on Monday (AEDT).

FIFA President Gianni Infantino appeared exhausted as he ranted for an hour. Photo: Getty

Mr Infantino said westerners, in particular Europeans, had no right to criticise Qatar.

“I am European,” Mr Infantino said.

“For what we have been doing for 3000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3000 years before giving moral lessons.

“I have difficulties understanding the criticism … we should all educate ourselves.

“Many things are not perfect but reform and change takes time.

“This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy.

“I wonder why no-one recognises the progress made here since 2016.”

Mr Infantino said it was not easy to take criticism for the decision to select Qatar which was smade 12 years ago, before his time.

But he said: “Qatar is ready. It will be the best World Cup ever.”

-with AAP

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