FIFA boss makes controversial African migrant claim
FIFA head Gianni Infantino has raised eyebrows with an address to European politicians in which he appeared to suggest that hosting the World Cup every two years could reduce death rates for African migrants attempting to find a 'better life'.
Infantino was discussing his 'Future of Football' strategy which concentrates on doubling the frequency of the flagship international tournament currently held every four years while attending a Council of Europe parliamentary assembly session.
The group is dedicated to supporting human rights, and Infantino suggested that countries outside of Europe require greater access to football competitions as a means of preventing grave consequences.
"I understand that in Europe the World Cup [effectively] takes place twice a week," Infantino began.
"Because the best players are playing in Europe. So in Europe, there is no need for additional possibilities and events.
"But if we think about the rest of the world, and the vast majority of Europe that doesn’t see the best players or participate in the top competitions, then we have to think about what football brings, which goes beyond the sport.
"This topic is not about whether we want a World Cup every two years, but about what do we want to do for the future of football," Infantino claimed.
"If we think about the rest of world, and the vast majority of Europe, then we have to think about what football brings," he added.
"Football is about opportunity, about hope, about the national teams. We cannot say to the rest of world: 'Give us your money, but watch us on TV'. We need to include them.
Gianni Infantino "We have to give the Africans hope that they don't have to cross the Mediterranean to perhaps be able to have a better life here. We have to give them opportunities and dignity."Seriously #Infantino#FIFA#WorldCup#AfricaDid I get this wrong? pic.twitter.com/6rihFpsuPt— Moses Wakhisi (@moseswakhisi) January 26, 2022
"We need to find ways to include the whole world 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," Infantino boldly stated.
"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," he admitted.
"We will discuss what the best way is to be more inclusive, not just to speak about saying no to discrimination, but to actually act in exactly that direction.
"By being more inclusive. By bringing everybody on board. By trying to give opportunities, hope, and dignity to the entire world."
My colleagues at Human Rights Watch interview refugees around the world pretty much 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 Cup tournaments. https://t.co/HpsHvBLX40— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) January 26, 2022
After Infantino highlighted "significant progress achieved by Qatar” in human rights amid allegations of 6,500 deaths of migrant workers building infrastructure, claiming that this came as a result of the country being awarded this year's World Cup, his remarks caused outrage.
"How low can Infantino go?" tweeted the chief executive of Football Supporters Europe, Ronan Evain
"Instrumentalising death in the Mediterranean to sell his megalomaniac plan is beyond words."
"My colleagues at Human Rights Watch interview refugees around the world pretty much every day," said the group's European media director, Andrew Stroehlein, on the same platform.
"We write reports about the reasons – the abuses, the hardships – that forced them to leave their homes. They never mention the timing of World Cup tournaments."
With former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spearheading the Future for Football project, proposals for a biennial World Cup have thus far been rejected by players such as Kylian Mbappe and fans alike.
"I'm nobody to say if it's a good thing or a bad thing," the Paris Saint Germain forward said recently at the Global Soccer Awards while collecting the Best Men’s Player of The Year gong.
"But I [can] give my opinion and my opinion is that the World Cup is the World Cup. It's a special thing because it's something [that takes place] every four years.
"If you want to keep that [specialness]... you saw that I talk about it, [that] people talk about it like the best competition in the world. If you have it every two years, it can start to be normal to play a World Cup.
"And I want to say that that's not normal. It's something amazing that maybe you play one time in your life," the Russia 2018 winner with France pointed out, while also agreeing with Robert Lewandowski's concerns over player safety.