Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett describes comments made by FIFA President Gianni Infantino referencing migrants drowning in the Mediterranean as "completely unacceptable"; Infantino later attempted to clarify his speech, saying he was "misinterpreted"
Wednesday 26 January 2022 18:33, UK
FIFA president Gianni Infantino's comments about African migrants have been described as "completely unacceptable" by Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett.
Infantino controversially referenced migrants risking drowning in the Mediterranean during a speech to the Council of Europe on Wednesday, as he spoke about the global benefits of FIFA plans to reform the international calendar which include a proposal for biennial men's and women's World Cups.
He said: "We need to give hope to Africans so they don't need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find, maybe, a better life but more probably death in the sea.
"We need to give opportunities and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate."
Burnett condemned the comments and said in a statement issued to the PA news agency: "FIFA is a multi-billion profit-making organisation. They already have the funds to invest in creating and inspiring opportunity for disadvantaged people around the world.
"It is therefore completely unacceptable to suggest that a biennial World Cup, predominantly set up to drive further profits for FIFA, could be a solution for migrants who risk their lives, sometimes fleeing war-torn countries, to seek a better life."
He added: "If FIFA has a genuine commitment to tackling inequality, they should be investing time and resource into charitable causes on the ground, rather than disguising what appears to be a profit-making biennial World Cup as the answer to any existing problems."
Infantino later looked to clarify his comments, insisting his speech had been "misinterpreted".
"Given that certain remarks made by me before the Council of Europe earlier today appear to have been misinterpreted and taken out of context, I wish to clarify that, in my speech, my more general message was that everyone in a decision-making position has a responsibility to help improve the situation of people around the world," he said in a statement.
"If there are more opportunities available, including in Africa, but certainly not limited to that continent, this should allow people to take these opportunities in their own countries. This was a general comment, which was not directly related to the possibility of playing a FIFA World Cup every two years."
Kick It Out is football's equality and inclusion organisation - working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.