FIFA president Gianni Infantino expressed support for the LGBTQ community and migrant workers in his opening press conference of the Qatar World Cup on Saturday.
“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,” he said.
The build-up to the tournament in the Gulf state has been dominated by concerns over Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community.
Qatar officials say their country has been the target of “racism” and “double standards”. They point to the reforms on working conditions and safety that have been hailed as groundbreaking in the Gulf region.
Infantino also hit back at criticism of Qatar’s human rights record, blasting the “hypocrisy” of Western critics.
“This moral lesson-giving -- one-sided -- is just hypocrisy,” said the Swiss.
“I don’t want to give you any lessons of life, but what is going on here is profoundly, profoundly unjust.”
He added: “For what we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years we should apologise for the next 3,000 years before starting giving moral lessons to people.”
World Cup fans ‘can survive’ without beer
Infantino said that World Cup fans can survive for three hours a day without beer after sales were banned around stadiums.
“I think personally if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive,” he said. “The same applies in France, Spain, Scotland.”
World Cup chiefs on Friday banned beer sales around stadiums in Qatar in a stunning U-turn, just 48 hours before Sunday’s kickoff.
Alcohol is largely prohibited in the Islamic nation but the organisers sparked fury from fans with their dramatic late decision.
Football’s world governing body FIFA said beer would not be sold to fans around any of the eight World Cup stadiums following discussions with the hosts.
It said beer sales would be focused on fan zones and licensed venues, “removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters”.
It gave no reason for the surprise decision but media reports said there had been an intervention by Qatar’s ruling family.
Dozens of Budweiser beer tents had already been set up at grounds ahead of the first game.
The World Cup kicks off on Sunday when host nation Qatar takes on Ecuador in the opening match.