Infantino has complained that he apparently links a plan for a World Cup every two years with hope to African migrants.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has sparked anger by apparently drawing a link between his plan for a World Cup every two years and the tragedy of migrants in the Mediterranean that “should be given hope”, before saying his remarks is “misinterpreted”.
In a speech to European lawmakers Wednesday, Infantino said football is dominated by the few who “have it all” and it needs to be more global and inclusive.
“I understand in Europe the World Cup takes place twice a week because the best players play in Europe,” said Infantino.
“But when we think of the rest of the world … that does not see the best players, that does not participate in the top competitions, then we have to think about what football brings, that goes beyond the sport.”
The idea of a World Cup every two years, rather than every four as it has been since 1930, faced a hostile reception by the European and South American federations, as well as the big clubs. But it enjoys unanimous support among the 54 African federations.
“We need to include them, we need to find ways to include the whole world, to give hope to Africans so that they do not have to cross the Mediterranean to perhaps find a better life, but more likely to die in it. the sea .
“We must give opportunities, and we must give dignity, not by giving to charity, but by allowing the rest of the world to participate as well.”
His remarks were quickly criticized on social media.
“My colleagues at Human Rights Watch conduct interviews with refugees around the world almost every day. We write reports about the reasons – the abuses, the hardships – that forced them to leave their homes. They never mention the timing of World Cups, ”tweeted Andrew Stroehlein, media director at HRW.
My colleagues at Human Rights Watch conduct interviews with refugees around the world almost every day.
We write reports about the reasons – the abuses, the hardships – that forced them to leave their homes.
They never mention the timing of World Cups. https://t.co/HpsHvBLX40
– Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) 26 January 2022
Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, was equally dismissive.
“How low can Infantino go? “Instrumentalizing death in the Mediterranean to sell his megalomaniacal plan is indescribable,” he tweeted.
This led to an explanation by Infantino in a statement sent to the AFP news agency.
“Given that certain remarks made by me before the Council of Europe earlier today seem to have been misinterpreted and taken out of context, I would like to make it clear that … my more general message was that everyone in a decision-making position is a has a responsibility to help improve the situation of people around the world, ”said Infantino.
“If there are more opportunities available, including in Africa, but certainly not limited to that continent, it should enable people to take advantage of these opportunities in their own countries.
“It was a general remark that is not directly related to the possibility of playing a World Cup every two years.”