FIFA president criticised for comments on African migrants while promoting biennial World Cups

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has been slammed for "unacceptable" comments while referencing African migrants' struggles in a speech about biennial World Cups.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino Source: Press Association

FIFA president Gianni Infantino's comments about African migrants have been described as "completely unacceptable" by anti-racism organisation Kick It Out.

Mr Infantino controversially referenced migrants risking drowning in the Mediterranean during his speech to the Council of Europe on Wednesday.

While speaking about the global benefits of FIFA plans to reform the international calendar and stage biennial World Cups, he said: "We need to give hope to Africans so they don't need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find, maybe, a better life but more probably death in the sea.

"We need to give opportunities and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate."

Tony Burnett, chief executive of Kick It Out, responded, saying: "FIFA is a multi-billion profit-making organisation. They already have the funds to invest in creating and inspiring opportunity for disadvantaged people around the world.

"It is therefore completely unacceptable to suggest that a biennial World Cup, predominantly set up to drive further profits for FIFA, could be a solution for migrants who risk their lives, sometimes fleeing war-torn countries, to seek a better life."

He added: "If FIFA has a genuine commitment to tackling inequality, they should be investing time and resource into charitable causes on the ground, rather than disguising what appears to be a profit-making biennial World Cup as the answer to any existing problems."

Despite Mr Infantino's attempts to outline the benefits to global football, the Council concluded that biennial World Cups would be "disastrous" for the sport in Europe.

FIFA is consulting globally over reforms to the international match calendar, but its plans have been met with vocal opposition in Europe.

The continental confederation UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues umbrella body have all rejected the concept.

Now the Council has joined the list of critics, with a resolution stating: "The Assembly questions the advisability of the plan currently under consideration by FIFA to hold the World Cup every two years.

"It considers that such a change would have disastrous consequences for European football, which is why both UEFA and the European Leagues are strongly opposed to the project.

"It could also harm the entire sports ecosystem by making the two main global sporting events - the World Cup and the Olympic Games - compete for media coverage and therefore also financial support."

It also called on FIFA "not to take decisions that are potentially detrimental to European football and sport worldwide without the agreement of European stakeholders and the International Olympic Committee".

3 min read
Published 27 January 2022 at 6:32am
Source: AAP, SBS