Gianni Infantino. The toxic side of the great world of football

Common sense says that sometimes, in a tight moment, the best thing to do is keep quiet. In other cases, admit a mistake. And denial is rarely the best solution. But for someone who was born 52 years ago in Switzerland, a country with a historical tradition of neutrality and moderation, Gianni Infantino is known for his temper. Critics sometimes point out that, instead of fixing their ways, they attack. or minimized.

The figure of the FIFA President since 2016 is, in a way, more Latin than Swiss. It is also logical: he was born on March 23, 1970, in Brig, in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, but he did not cease to be the son of Italian immigrants (of the poor) who, as a child, insisted that he take him to the “cathedral” of San Siro. There was the conversion of young Giovanni to the religion of football by the duo of Altobelli and Pecalosi.

Infantino’s favorite club – which has two nationalities, Italian and Swiss – is known to be Inter Milan, not (sometimes) European Young Boys or the almost unknown Neuchâtel Zamax – a team based very close to the university where Infantino worked as Secretary General of the International Center for the Study of Sport.

And if there were any doubts about which country had a sporting loyalty, it was clarified at the end of last March, after Italy was eliminated by North Macedonia in the elimination match to reach the World Cup. “I feel like crying,” he admitted. And he remembers: “I think of the times when I was a kid, the emotions I felt while watching the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, those are the things that make us fall in love with football.”

Last week, during a conference in Los Angeles, the FIFA president would have benefited from a more Swiss position. In the face of a report published by the British newspaper “The Guardian”, which revealed the death of more than 6,500 migrant workers in Qatar, in preparation for the World Cup, Infantino did not try to contain the damage. Rather, he was negligent: he questioned the stated facts.

“In the construction of stadiums for the World Cup (…) there were actually three people who died. Three is already three more. But there are three, not six thousand,” he began, then added that “six thousand people may have died in the works.” Others, but FIFA is not the world’s police, nor is it responsible for everything that happens around the world.”

Infantino resorted to the old “Alwata” trick, which angered some humanitarian associations. But apart from criticism, there were no consequences. (In January of this year, he said organizing more soccer tournaments in Africa could prevent more migrants from dying in the Mediterranean.)

In a letter published to various media outlets, the NGO (Human Rights Watch) accused the FIFA president of underestimating the deaths that occurred in work accidents in Qatar. “It has astonishingly reduced the deaths and hardships of migrant workers in Qatar, literally building the 2022 World Cup,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

Note: The figures from the “Guardian” are not the first to raise the alarm about the sporting event taking place in Qatar. Or even worse. According to data from Amnesty International (AI), since 2015, 35 people have died in World Cup projects. However, the true figure would be much higher given that between 2010 and 2019, more than 15,000 foreign workers died in the country, with the majority of deaths attributed to cardiovascular problems.

Despite numerous calls for a boycott of the competition in Qatar in recent years, due to human rights violations in the country, the World Cup will kick off on November 21. And, of course, Infantino has a place reserved.

For nearly two decades now, Pierluigi Collina’s (bald) husband — who looks a lot like the villain “The Hood” from the children’s series Thunderbirs, as DailyMail reported — has been frequenting the VIP boxes of the sports king. And not always in the best companies.

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