CNN — FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s nearly hour-long speech on the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was described by human rights groups as “despicable” and an “insult” towards migrant workers. In an explosive monologue that kicked off a press conference in Doha, world football boss Infantino accused Western critics of hypocrisy over Qatar’s human rights record. “We Europeans must apologize for the next 3,000 years before we can teach them a moral lesson for what they have been doing for the past 3,000 years,” he said. “Reform and change take time. In our country in Europe, it took hundreds of years. Everywhere takes time, and the only way to get results is to engage, not scream.” The tournament, which kicks off on Sunday, is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East, but has been embroiled in controversy, focusing on human rights issues such as the deaths of migrant workers and working conditions. Many people have stood up for LGBTQ and women’s rights in Qatar. Despite admitting that not everything was perfect, the Infantino accused the West of having a double standard, saying some of the criticism was “grossly unjust”. Steve Cockburn, director of economic and social justice for Amnesty International, said in his statement: that. “Demands for equality, dignity and compensation cannot be treated as a kind of culture war, they are universal human rights that FIFA has promised to respect in its own rules. If there is a glimmer of hope, Infantino has announced that FIFA will create a legacy fund after the World Cup. But it can’t be just window dressing. If FIFA is going to salvage something from this tournament, it needs to announce that it will invest a significant portion of the $6 billion the organization will earn in this tournament, and ensure that these funds are used to directly reward workers and their families.” “The Infantino’s remarks are as absurd as they are clumsy and suggest that the FIFA president is taking the issue directly from Qatari authorities,” said Nicholas McGeehan, director of FairSquare, a nonprofit human rights organization, in a statement. “Bias and anything has always been at the heart of Qatar’s PR efforts to defend against ranking failure and now they have the FIFA president working for them.” “History will not judge this moment favorably,” Mustafa Qadri, CEO of international human rights organization Equidem, said in a statement. Infantino’s speech was an insult to the thousands of hard-working women and men who made the World Cup possible. “He had the perfect opportunity to acknowledge that thousands of men and women from the poorest countries came to the richest countries and faced deception, exploitation and discrimination. “Every day, workers reach out to Equidem about unpaid wages, abuse, and speaking out in fear of employer retaliation. Here’s the solution. The Infantino must establish a comprehensive compensation fund and call for the establishment of an independent migrant worker center in Qatar, giving workers a safe space to complain and get the support they need.” The Guardian reported last year that 6,500 South Asian migrant workers have died in Qatar since Qatar won the 2010 World Cup. Most of these people were involved in low-paying, dangerous work, often in extreme heat. The report does not link all 6,500 deaths to World Cup infrastructure projects and has not been independently confirmed by CNN. Qatar readiness chief Hassan Al Thawadi told CNN’s Becky Anderson last year that The Guardian’s figure of 6,500 was a misleading “sensational headline” and that the report lacked context. Government officials told CNN there were three work-related deaths and 37 non-work-related deaths at the stadium. The official said in a statement that the Guardian’s figures were “inaccurate” and “very misleading”. Eight new stadiums have sprung up in the desert, while the Gulf States have expanded their airports and built new hotels, railroads and highways. According to Amnesty International, migrant workers make up 90% of the labor force out of a population of nearly 3 million. Since 2010, when Qatar won the World Cup, migrant workers have faced unpaid wages, forced labour, long hours in hot weather, employer intimidation and being unable to leave their jobs due to state sponsorship systems, human rights groups have said. . Norwegian football president Lise Klaveness told CNN’s Amanda Davies that FIFA had a chance to depoliticize the World Cup, but Infantino did the “just the opposite” through his comments on Saturday. In April, Klaveness made a stinging speech calling Qatar’s decision to host the World Cup “unacceptable” and calling on FIFA to do more to uphold human rights principles. She said that Infantino’s monologue before her first match showed the pressure he was under. “I think he went too far in reducing reasonable criticism of Western double standards,” she said. “It’s a bit risky to polarize west and east,” she says. I think it is very important to give feedback that we need to bring the West and the East together.” She added that it was “a reasonable criticism of FIFA and international football bodies, not Qatar itself”.
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