The first World Cup deflection came from Gianni Infantino. Maybe even an own goal.

The FIFA president, who told the teams to focus on football, did all but the day before kick-off.

He was determined to expose what he perceives to be the hypocrisy of critics – to deliver a his own moral lesson.

There seemed to be a reference to colonialism when he said Europeans had no right to criticize Qatar – and should instead apologize for their own conduct over the next 3,000 years.

An attempt to show empathy appeared performative when he said, oddly, “Today I feel gay… today I feel gay. [like] a migrant worker.”

He even tried to assimilate the experience of his own family, migrating from Italy to Switzerland, with the workers who came to Qatar for low-paying jobs, often under brutal conditions.

Countless died prematurely. The lack of post-mortem examinations means we will never know the full human cost of Qatar hosting the World Cup with £200bn of new infrastructure.

Mr Infantino’s rambling tirade – which lasted more than an hour before questions were asked at the press conference – drew fresh attention to Qatar’s suitability as the tournament’s host.

With no local officials speaking to the media this week, he appeared to be the voice of the Middle Eastern country.

But while he dismissed Qatar’s criticism, a review he sees as hypocritical has produced changes leading to improved working conditions for migrant workers.

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

Qatar World Cup History

This is an implausibly chosen World Cup host by FIFA 12 years ago.

Corruption investigations have been rebuffed by Qatar, ensuring the eight stadiums are now set to stage 64 World Cup matches and, possibly, the last international tournament for Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine rival Lionel Messi .

It all starts on Sunday with Qatar making their World Cup debut against Ecuador after an opening ceremony that won’t just be about celebrating the football to come.

After 12 years of attacks, Qatar hopes to celebrate as a nation – projecting power that eclipses this nation’s small size.

But Mr Infantino hopes his lavish praise doesn’t come back to bite him.

After all, a few years ago he flattered 2018 hosts Russia and Vladimir Putin, despite concerns from human rights activists.

FIFA then had to ban Russia from this World Cup for invading Ukraine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *