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Infantino says double standard behind World Cup critics

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Saturday attacked European critics of World Cup host Qatar, suggesting double moral standards on his home continent.

Infantino listed Europe’s problems on the eve of Qatar kicking off its home tournament that has been dogged for years by criticism of the emirate’s record on human rights and its treatment of migrant workers who build stadiums and infrastructure.

“What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving people moral lessons,” Infantino told hundreds of international media.

He said Qatar and the capital Doha will be ready to host the “best World Cup ever.”

“Today I feel Qatari,” Infantino said. “Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel like a migrant worker.”

Infantino linked the criticism to the bullying and discrimination he said he experienced as a child of Italian parents who moved to work in Switzerland.

He said European nations were now closing their borders to migrants who wanted to work there, while Qatar had offered opportunities to workers from India, Bangladesh and other Southeast Asian nations through legal channels.

Migrant workers who built Qatar’s World Cup stadiums often worked long hours in harsh conditions and faced discrimination, wage theft and other abuses when their employers evaded accountability, human rights group Equidem said. based in London in a 75-page report published this month.

Under intense international scrutiny, Qatar has enacted a series of labor reforms in recent years that have been praised by Equidem and other human rights groups. But advocates say abuses are still widespread and workers have few avenues for redress.

“What has been put on the table in recent months is something quite incredible,” the FIFA leader said of criticism of Qatar by Western media.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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