FIFA president says he feels ‘gay and disabled’ in attack on Qatar World Cup critics

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference ahead of opening match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in Doha, Qatar on November 19, 2022.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino made a bewildering speech about the Qatar World Cup during a press conference.

During the Saturday (19 November) address, the governing body’s president criticised western media for “giving moral lessons” due to “the last 3,000 years” of history in the region.

He then claimed that “nobody cares” about disabled people and compared having red hair as a child to the oppression that LGBTQ+ minorities face in Qatar.

“I know what it feels [like] to be discriminated… I was bullied because I had red hair,” he said. “Plus I was Italian.”

FIFA has come under increased scrutiny for selecting Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host considering its laws on LGBTQ+ people, who can be sentenced to death for openly identifying as queer.

You cannot currently be stoned to death for having red hair in Qatar.

Infantino, who was re-elected this week, went on to say: “I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacts on November 19, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacts on November 19, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Getty)

He clarified that he was in fact, none of those things, but that he “[feels] like it.”

“Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing.”

Of course, no accusations need to be made about Qatar’s death penalty laws for openly identifying as LGBTQ since they’re very clear in their intention, but many have taken to protesting FIFA’s reluctance to condemn those laws.

“It is an absolute disgrace that it is being held in a country with a human rights record as bad as Qatar,” FIFA Records said in a tweet. “As much as we will miss it, we refuse to watch it, Shame on FIFA.

Meanwhile, EuroPride organisers EPOA urged people to “amplify the voices of LGBTI+ people in Qatar and the broader region.”

“Don’t let the Qatari government use the FIFA World Cup to gloss over their dreadful human rights record!” It continued.

On those concerns, Infantino claimed that “everyone is welcome,” adding: “if you hear a person here or there who says the opposite, it is not the opinion of the country, it is certainly not the opinion of FIFA.

“What do you want to do – stay home, hammer and criticise how bad these Arabs and Muslims are because it is not allowed [in the country] to be publicly gay.”

The FIFA president also defended Qatar’s exploitation of migrant workers during the conference.

The country’s treatment of migrant workers has been a highly discussed topic in the run-up to the World Cup. Workers were described as “doing dangerous work in the searing heat” by The New York Times.

But Infantino claimed that Qatar’s labour laws and reforms were a step in the right direction, while also saying that they earn more than they would at home.

He also said that they would establish a “Labour excellence hub” in Qatar with the UN agency, according to SkyNews sports correspondent Rob Harris.