Fact check: 11 eye-catching lines from Gianni Infantino’s speech in Qatar

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Fifa’s president told the world he feels Arab, African, gay and disabled, while the media are racist hypocrites. So how accurate was his World Cup monologue?

Today I have very strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker. I feel like them because I know what it feels like to be discriminated, to be bullied as a foreigner in a country. At school I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles. I was bullied, plus I was Italian, so imagine. I didn’t speak good German. What do you do then? You lock yourself down in your room, you cry and then you try to make some friends. You try to engage … You don’t start accusing or fighting, you start engaging. This is what we should be doing.”

Infantino’s opening remarks set the tone for his unexpectedly lengthy address. They are personalised and speak to his key theme, that of hypocrisy and that the way to effect change is not through confrontation but “engagement”. The metaphor, comparing being bullied for having red hair to the experience of migrant workers who remain exploited in Qatar to this day, appears flippant, but is likely sincere. Infantino has also lumped together the experience of exploited workers and those of LGBTQ+ people whose sexuality is illegal in Qatar, with those of some Qataris themselves – especially those at the top of society – who feel they have been the subject of unfair criticism. This gives the impression of a relativist approach to a highly sensitive debate.

It’s not easy every day to read all these critics of decisions that were taken 10 years ago when none of us was there. Now everyone knows we have to make the best out of it and make the best World Cup ever. Doha is ready, Qatar is ready, it will be the best World Cup ever, of course.”

Let’s start with the migrant workers. We are told many many lessons from some Europeans, the western world. I am European. I actually am. I think for what we Europeans have been doing in the last 3,000 years, around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.”

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Written by Paul MacInnes in Doha
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/football/2022/nov/19/world-cup-gianni-infantino-speech-fact-check-qatar under the title “Fact check: 11 eye-catching lines from Gianni Infantino’s speech in Qatar”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.