FIFA president Gianni Infantino compares Qatar human rights abuses to gingers getting bullied
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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has compared the horrific human rights abuses and discrimination practised by 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar to being bullied for being ginger.
The World Cup, due to kick off tomorrow with the opening fixture between the host nation and Ecuador, has been mired in controversy ever since it was awarded to Qatar.
Critics pointed towards a plethora of reasons that Qatar was an unsuitable host nation for the World Cup, including the scorching desert heat requiring the tournament to be played in the winter, and the country itself lacking the size and infrastructure to host.
However, the biggest reason people had to object against the World Cup was Qatar's record on human rights.
Qatar discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community, with homosexuality illegal in the nation and punishable by several years in prison.
It is estimated that thousands of migrant workers have died building the stadiums where the World Cup will be played, with their families still waiting to receive the compensation they are owed.
FIFA has come in for harsh criticism both for allowing Qatar to host the World Cup in the first place amid a storm of corruption – something former FIFA president Sepp Blatter now acknowledges was a mistake – and for doing nothing to stop it since then.
Current FIFA president Gianni Infantino has now hit back at the criticism of Qatar in a news conference where he compared the discrimination Qatar enforces to being bullied as a ginger.
He said: "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 know what it feels to be discriminated... I was bullied because I had red hair."
"I have been speaking about this topic with the highest leadership of the country. I can confirm that everyone is welcome. If you hear a person that says the opposite, it is not the opinion of the country or of FIFA."
He also accused European nations of hypocrisy over moralising about Qatar and claimed that 'nobody cares' about the 'one billion disabled people in the world'.
On the subject of the migrant workers who toiled and died to build the World Cup stadiums, Infantino said they were earning more in Qatar than they would in their home nations, and if European countries 'really care' about them they'd offer them jobs in their countries instead.
The FIFA president also told the assembled media 'don't criticise Qatar', and suggested maybe they could hold a competition in Iran at some point.
The claim that everyone is welcome at the World Cup is one which has also been made by Qatar's World Cup chief Nasser Al Khater, who insisted 'everybody will feel safe' while the tournament is on.
However, there are serious concerns over Qatar moving the goalposts over what is allowed and whether the rules will be enforced correctly.
Qatari officials had to apologise after Danish reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was threatened with violence for filming somewhere he had every right to be.
Meanwhile, the sudden ban on selling beer at World Cup stadiums is a concerning sign that Qatar can renege on agreements and change the rules at a moment's notice, with FIFA not able to prevent it.
While Qatar insists the rules are clear and everyone will be fine, there are already examples of the rules being changed and people following them threatened anyway before the World Cup has even begun.