FIFA president Gianni Infantino expects 'discrimination-free' 2020 World Cup
By PA Media
Last Updated: 21/11/19 9:10am
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is confident Qatar will deliver a "discrimination-free" World Cup when it gets under way in three years' time.
Football's showpiece event will kick off at the Lusail Stadium in Doha on November 21, 2022, where the world's focus will turn to the Gulf state after more than a decade of debate and controversy.
One area of major concern has been how such a conservative country will welcome LGBTQ+ supporters.
But Qatar 2022 organising committee chief executive Nasser Al Khater has stated that public displays of affection are "frowned upon" in the country, but insists that applies to people of all genders and sexual orientation.
Despite concerns that the 2018 World Cup in Russia would be blighted by racism, the tournament passed off largely without incident, with FIFA president Infantino expecting Qatar to offer an "inclusive" experience.
"Every single fan will be welcome and this is not only the FIFA president saying that, but a full commitment made by our partners in Qatar," he said.
"In accordance with our statutes and policies, it is our responsibility to ensure a discrimination-free World Cup and in the past years we have been working, together with Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, on a list of measures that will ensure an inclusive experience for everyone.
"There were also questions ahead of the World Cup in Russia and we did not hear of a single case of discrimination - a positive outcome that resulted from the work done ahead of the event and the ability that the World Cup has to bring people together."
The run-up to the tournament has been dogged by allegations of corruption in the bidding process, and the decision to move the event to the European winter to avoid 40 degrees-plus temperatures in Qatar's summer is forcing a rewriting of domestic calendars for the 2022-23 season at least.
Infantino insisted that decision was taken with player welfare in mind, however, adding: "The change in the dates is to guarantee something that is of utmost importance for us - the well-being of the players.
"Since then the match calendar has been adopted in consultation with the international football community and we will continue to work together to address challenges.
"It is also important to remember that the calendar is different in other parts of the world, or that fans in the southern hemisphere will also have for once the chance to enjoy World Cup public viewings and celebrate in the streets when it's summer for them."
Amnesty remain critical of FIFA
FIFA has come under criticism from human rights' group Amnesty International, however, who have been concerned form some time about the treatment of migrant workers constructing the tournament stadiums.
Amnesty admit conditions have improved for construction workers, although their deputy director of global issues Stephen Cockburn insisted FIFA still has work to do.
"As a business they have a responsibility to respect human rights, they are very often not doing the due diligence they need to, or using the power they have to improve human rights in a country," said Cockburn.
"With things like the awarding of the Club World Cup to China [from 2021], the sense that we get is that the human rights policy that FIFA has plays second fiddle to the bigger politics and money around.
"FIFA have come some way, but they have got a really long way to go before they can talk credibly about putting human rights at the centre of their work."
In response, Infantino said: "FIFA has a human rights policy and enforces it, and was the first sports organisation in the world to actually adopt one. There are problems everywhere, in many countries of the world.
"It is not the mission of FIFA to solve those problems, but we work hard to have a positive influence - not by attacking or criticising, but by talking and, through football, bringing understanding and helping to foster positive change.
"I was not the FIFA president when Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup, but is the workers' situation now better or worse? The answer is simple and has been acknowledged by independent human rights bodies - it is better now, it is improving, national laws have been changed, new systems are in place.
"And the reason for that is because football brings issues to the spotlight and together with our member associations we work to advance and progress to the benefit of everyone. For me, there is no doubt that football is helping and contributing to positive change, including and already in Qatar."