FIFA president Gianni Infantino has accused the West of “hypocrisy” in its reporting about Qatar’s human rights record on the eve of the World Cup. In an extraordinary monologue at a news conference in Doha, Infantino spoke for nearly an hour and made a passionate defence of Qatar and the tournament.
The event has been overshadowed by issues in Qatar including deaths of migrant workers and treatment of LGBT people. Switzerland-born Infantino said that European nations should apologise for acts committed in their own histories, rather than focussing on migrant workers’ issues in Qatar. Infantino opened by 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.” In February 2021, the Guardian said 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid.
The number is based on figures provided by the countries’ embassies in Qatar. However, the Qatar government said the total was misleading, because not all the deaths recorded were of people working on World Cup-related projects.
The government said its accident records showed there were 37 deaths among labourers at World Cup stadium construction sites between 2014 and 2020, only three of which were “work-related”. However, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says this is an underestimate.