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“Let football take center stage” | Gianni Infantino urges World Cup nations to focus on the tournament in Qatar rather than politics

Press criticism and speculation continue to increase in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with Infantino and FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura urging nations to worry about matters on the pitch only


The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is less than three weeks away as current holders France look to become just the third nation to successfully defend their crown when the world’s most beloved sporting spectacle takes hold of the Arab world for the first time in its history.

But, as expected, continued criticism and speculation from both the press and fans have only increased the closer the tournament has gotten, and now FIFA president Gianni Infantino and FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura are publically urging nations to worry about matters on the pitch only and avoid getting stuck into politics.

As reported by ESPN, the FIFA leadership’s letter stated “We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world. At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world. One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity.”

Infantino and Samoura went on to add “No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other. This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football.”

The issues with this winter’s World Cup are multilayered to say the very least.

First, the ongoing criticism of Qatar in the wake of the country’s treatment of low-paid migrant workers involved with building projects that would go on to cost tens of billions of US dollars, while Qatar also continues to receive backlash on its views regarding the criminalization of same-sex relationships, though Qatar has vowed to welcome all fans into the country “regardless of origin, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.”

Additionally, there have been calls for Iran to be stripped of its ability to participate in the World Cup after widespread reports link the Islamic Republic with supplying weapons and assistance to Russia in its continued unjust invasion of neighboring Ukraine, as well as their treatment of women in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

In a response to the many issues that continue to concern many other participating nations, eight UEFA participants have committed to wearing heart-shaped captains’ armbands in support of an anti-discrimination campaign, while a cadre of national team coaches, as well as full federations, have supported calls for a creation of a compensation fund for families of migrant workers that have lost their lives. Further still, Denmark has committed to wearing all-black jerseys as a sign of mourning for those that have died.

If football is truly a global game for all, then the many nations - and their fans - who support their ability to speak up on distressing issues, then surely there is no better platform than the most popular sporting tournament in the world.


Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.



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