Suddenly football is political
FIFA boss Infantino is becoming increasingly megalomaniac
11/15/2022, 1:12 PM
FIFA president Gianni Infantino makes a detour to the G20 summit in Indonesia for the World Cup in Qatar. In Bali, he called on the leaders to suspend the war in Ukraine for the duration of the tournament. Politics suddenly plays a role again for the FIFA boss.
Gianni Infantino knows what people want to hear. At least, that is what the FIFA president thinks. Less than two weeks after his urgent appeal to the countries participating in the World Cup not to send political messages at the tournament in Qatar, the 52-year-old called for a ceasefire at the G20 fire. top in Bali advertised in Ukraine. In any case, weapons must be silent during the World Cup from November 20 to December 18, declared the most powerful man in world football.
“My request to all of you is to consider a temporary ceasefire for one month during the World Cup,” Infantino said in his speech. “Or at least set up some humanitarian corridors – or anything else that could lead to the resumption of dialogue as the first step towards peace.” He appealed to the summit participants, including US President Joe Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “You are the leaders of the world. You have the ability to change the course of history. to influence.”
“We are not naive and think that football can solve the world’s problems,” the FIFA boss added. However, the World Cup “could be an occasion for a positive gesture or a sign”. Recalling the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Ukraine’s joint bid with Spain and Portugal for the 2030 World Cup, the FIFA president concluded that football unites the world.
Another construction site, another job
Less than two weeks ago, the FIFA boss formulated an equally urgent appeal in a letter to the 32 participating countries in the World Cup in Qatar. “Let’s focus on football,” they said in early November. He was aware that “football does not exist in a vacuum and that there are far-reaching political problems all over the world”, then demanded: “Please do not allow football to be drawn into every political and ideological struggle.”
At the time, however, the request had little to do with the current world situation, but with the displeasure of World Cup host Qatar growing into pure anger. The emirate has long complained about a ‘racist’ campaign in Europe. In addition to countless documentaries about the human rights situation in Qatar and the repression against members of the LGBTQ community, politicians have also made themselves heard more and more in recent weeks.
Last week, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani accused the German government of “meaning double standards” in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. On the one hand, “the German population is being misinformed by government politicians”. On the other hand, the government has no problem with Qatar when it comes to energy partnerships or rescuing German citizens from Afghanistan. The outrage in Doha was fueled by statements by Interior Secretary Nancy Faeser, who had demanded, among other things, security guarantees for the LGBTQ community.
Silence also on Iran
Infantino has so far not commented on the situation in Iran, which is participating in the World Cup. The anti-regime protests, which have been going on for two months, have led to repeated violent crackdowns by Iranian security forces against the critics. As the BBC reported, an Iranian court is said to have handed down an initial death sentence against a participant in the protests. Human rights groups warn that Iranian authorities may be planning “hasty executions”.
The protests had recently led to discussions about excluding the Iran national team from the World Cup. However, many Iranians hope that the football professionals will use the World Cup in the Gulf Emirate of Qatar for solidarity actions. Numerous Iranian footballers have already shown solidarity with the demonstrators in recent weeks. In addition to active players, former professionals have also excelled.
Iranian ex-Bundesliga professional Ali Daei says he has rejected an invitation from FIFA to the World Cup in Qatar. “In these days when most of us are not well, I have declined the official invitation from FIFA and the Qatar Football Association to attend the World Cup with my wife and daughters,” the 53-year-old wrote on Instagram. . “I want to be with you in my country and offer my condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones these days,” Daei said. “Hope for good times for Iran and Iranians.” Daei is a folk football hero in Iran.
Russia’s role in the World Cup
Back to Russia. Although FIFA suspended the Russian national team from all international competitions following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, it has not revoked its membership in the Russian Football Federation. And during the World Cup in Qatar, there will now also be special fan zones for Russian fans, the Kremlin said after a meeting between Vladimir Putin and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the conference on cooperation and confidence-building measures. in Asia (CICA) in Astana in mid-October.
After the meeting, Qatar’s state news agency QNA announced that Russia was offering “great support” to the desert country regarding the World Cup. The “coordination” would therefore “continue, and we thank Russia for it”. The news agency also wrote that, according to Putin, “relations between Russia and Qatar” would continue to develop. Accordingly, Russia, the host of the 2018 World Cup, is “doing everything possible to share our experiences in preparing for the World Cup” and wishes Putin “good luck in organizing this great event”.