Soccer News: Infantino expects ‘best World Cup ever’ and rejects ‘hypocrisy’ of Qatar critics

    Gianni Infantino expects Qatar 2022 to be “the best World Cup ever”, he told reporters on Saturday, suggesting some of the criticisms of the final were hypocritical.

    In an unusual opening speech, the FIFA president responded on a wide range of issues, saying he had received “almost threats” about the rights of migrant workers.

    But Infantino’s enthusiasm for action on the field, which will begin on Sunday, has not waned.

    One notable complaint has been about hosting the World Cup in European winter, especially with matches in some domestic leagues ending less than a week before Qatar’s first match against Ecuador.

    Antonio Conte last week described England captain Harry Kane as ‘very, very tired’ due to his hectic schedule leading up to the World Cup, but Infantino suggested the problem would worsen at the end of the season.

    He believes that this tournament will be a new benchmark.

    “When players play in July they get very tired, especially the best players who play in the Champions League,” he said.

    “It will be an exceptional World Cup and I think we will see the best World Cup ever.”

    All eight stadiums used in Qatar are within a 55km radius of the capital Doha, and Infantino sees this as another big plus.

    He added: “It will be a very compact world championship. No travel for teams, perfect conditions, temperature, venues, hotels, stadiums.

    “Everything is done to make them feel good and play well.

    “It is also the first time fans from all countries gather in one place for the entire tournament. It’s unique.

    “When we say football brings the world together, that’s exactly what it is.”

    Infantino is confident fans will enjoy the tournament – “fans who don’t want to watch, don’t watch,” he added – and his defense of Qatar as a host goes beyond mere logistics.

    Asked to respond to predecessor Sepp Blatter’s description of a “mistake” in the bidding process, Infantino said: “I have nothing to say because I wasn’t there. At the time, I was even known as one of FIFA’s biggest critics.”

    In an hour-long monologue at the beginning of his press conference, the head of FIFA detailed the steps being taken to improve the rights of migrant workers in the aftermath of the deaths at World Cup construction sites.

    But Infantino was reluctant to accept European criticism on the subject, explaining: “We know that Europe has a lot of illegal workers living in not the best conditions.

    “Those who get to Europe or want to go to Europe have a very difficult road to go. Only a few survive.

    “So if you really care about the fate of these people, these young people, then Europe could also do what Qatar did: create legal channels for at least a part or a percentage of these workers who can come to Europe, give them some work , future, hope.

    “In Qatar, of course, there are things that still don’t work, but these moral lessons are one-sided, it’s just hypocrisy.”

    He said: “I am European. I think that for what we Europeans have been doing for the last 3000 years, we should apologize for the next 3000 years before giving moral lessons to people.”

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