Kane to defy FIFA rules

FIFA boss in bizarre rant as Kane prepares to defy armband rules

From Rob Draper and Dominic King IN DOHA



dmg media (UK)


World Cup 2022

THE World Cup descended into a political storm on the eve of the opening game after FIFA president Gianni Infantino delivered an astonishing defence of the host nation and its controversial humanitarian record. With Harry Kane and Gareth Bale ready to defy FIFA by wearing captains’ armbands intended to support human rights, rather than the official FIFA bands introduced only yesterday, football’s world governing body came under sustained attack. Infantino used a press conference to deliver a 57-minute soliloquy to defend Qatar, insisting its treatment of migrant workers had been misrepresented and accusing Europe of 3,000 years of exploitation and colonialism. ‘We in Europe, we close our borders and we don’t allow practically any worker from those countries, who earn obviously very low income, to work legally in our countries,’ said Infantino. ‘If Europe would really care about the destiny of these people, these young people, then Europe could also do as Qatar did. But give them some work. Give them some future. Give them some hope. But this moral-lesson giving, one-sided, it is just hypocrisy.’ Even by Infantino’s standards, it was an extraordinary performance, which left those present flabbergasted by some of his claims and prompted a furious reaction from Amnesty International and other Human Rights organisations. Infantino condemned the Western media for focusing on the storms that have arisen around this winter tournament and said: ‘What is sad, in these last weeks, we have been seeing in some places a real lesson on morals, on double morals.’ Infantino had begun his speech by saying: ‘Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker’. He added: ‘I know what it feels to be discriminated because as a foreigner in a foreign country, as a child at school I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles.’ A Mail on Sunday investigation has shown 2,823 foreigners of working age died in Qatar between 2011 and 2020 for unexplained ‘unclassified’ reasons. FIFA and the Qatar organisers have always insisted that only three workers died. One of those is Briton Zac Cox, who fell to his death in 2017 in what a coroner said was the ‘downright dangerous’ environment of the Khalifa Stadium, where England open their World Cup campaign against Iran tomorrow. England captain Kane will wear the One Love armband which is being worn by several European nations, including Wales, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland. It is intended to be a statement in support of human rights, including gay rights, with homosexuality illegal in Qatar. The FA and their fellow European federations can expect to be fined for defying official FIFA guidelines. FIFA yesterday announced they were issuing their own captains’ armbands, which for the first game will be branded with #FootballUnitesTheWorld Infantino did allude to a legacy fund for migrant workers but the details remain unclear. Wales, England and the six other UEFA federations are calling for the establishment of a Migrant Workers’ Centre and a FIFA compensation fund. England’s players are expected to meet today to decide whether to take the knee at their World Cup games to protest against racism. The team has been subject to racist abuse in games in Bulgaria, Hungary and Montenegro in recent years as well as from their own fans on social media after the Euro 2020 final.