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On Thursday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, defended Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, from criticism that it has received for not respecting human rights, and assured that the Arab country has made several “real changes” to improve conditions for migrant workers.
The World Cup is “an opportunity for Qatar and the Persian Gulf to present themselves to the world in a different way and get rid of the prejudices that unfortunately still exist today,” Infantino said in a speech at the ‘Future Investment Initiative’ (FII), known as the “Davos of the Desert”, held in Riyadh.
In this regard, he said that in Qatar there have been “real changes” in terms of labor rights, praised the fact that the Arab country had approved a minimum wage for the first time in this region of the Middle East, and applauded the “abolition” of the sponsorship system that binds employees to the will of their employers.
“These changes have happened in just a few years in Qatar, while in other countries, including some of our beloved European countries, this took decades,” the FIFA president said, who stated that this was due to the “real impact of the World Cup”.
The Italian Swiss celebrated that to date, FIFA has received 23 million requests for a ticket to the World Cup, something he described as a “record.” He added that “more than 3 million tickets have been sold and will be sold” and the tournament will have 5,000 million television viewers.
Infantino also spoke about campaigns during the World Cup to encourage people to lead healthy lives, since especially “after the pandemic it is important to focus on health.”
“Football is happiness. And FIFA has been the official happiness provider for over 100 years. And happiness, obviously, is one of the best medicines against any type of disease, as we know,” he said.