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FIFA president Infantino suggests abused migrant workers in Qatar given 'dignity and pride'

4:21 AM MYT 03/05/2022
Gianni Infantino
This is the second time this year the 52-year-old has received backlash for his remarks

FIFA president Gianni Infantino made controversial comments on Monday about migrant workers in Qatar, suggesting reported abuse amid World Cup preparations has been offset by the "dignity and pride" they have been given by their jobs.

Speaking at a business conference in the United States, Infantino offered his remarks in response to a question about the safety standards and general conditions for workers in the country.

It has been reported that thousands of migrant workers have died during the construction of stadiums in Qatar in recent years, while a recent report by Amnesty International called work practices in the country "forced labour".

What did Infantino say?

"My parents emigrated from Italy to Switzerland. Not so far, but still. When you give work to someone, even in hard conditions, you give him dignity and pride," he said, according to the AP.

FIFA president's other controversial comments

Earlier this year, Infantino suggested that a biennial World Cup could stop African migrants from "dying in the sea" in a controversial speech at the Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“We need to find ways to include the whole world [in football] to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea," he said.

“We need to give opportunities, to give dignity. Not by charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate. Maybe the World Cup every two years is not the answer. We will discuss it.”

Infantino later apologised for those remarks, claiming his words were "misinterpreted and taken out of context".

Qatar protests

Several national teams have staged protests against the holding of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, citing alleged abuse of workers, although none that have qualified have said they would boycott the event.

Last month, Dutch coach Louis van Gaal called it "ridiculous" that Qatar could host a World Cup.

“We are playing in a country that FIFA says they want to develop football there," he said. "That's bullsh*t, but it doesn't matter. It's about money, about commercial interests. That matters in FIFA."

England manager Gareth Southgate also weighed in, saying "there are obviously ongoing concerns about the rights of workers and the conditions they live in and those areas" while questioning Qatar's stance on LGBTQ+ issues.

In response, 2022 World Cup CEO Nasser Al Khater fired back: "Somebody with a lot of influence, such as Southgate, somebody with a big audience that listens to what he says, ought to pick his words very carefully."

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