FIFA President Gianni Infantino said migrant workers are proud of their hard work when asked on Monday about the suffering of workers in Qatar during the construction of World Cup infrastructure.
Despite the abuse, Infantino said the workers would be proud of the opportunity to build stadiums for the championship in the Gulf country, to earn a living rather than charity.
The soccer board’s comments came after Infantino was asked at the Milken Institute’s global conference in Los Angeles if FIFA would use its profits to make “some kind of commitment” to help the families of workers who died in Qatar.
Infantino did not directly address this point when responding to MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhli on stage, instead referring to the introduction of minimum wages and improved workers’ rights.
“Let’s not forget one thing…when we talk about this topic, which is work, even hard work, hard work,” Infantino said. “The United States is a country of immigration. My parents also immigrated from Italy to Switzerland. Not far, but yes.”
“When you give someone work, even under harsh circumstances, you give them dignity and pride. It’s not charity. You don’t do alms. Don’t give something to someone and say, ‘Stay where you are.'” I give you something and I feel good.”
And Rohli intervened to say: “But to build the stadium where the World Cup will be held.”
Infantino replied, “Exactly. It is also a matter of pride and that being able to change the circumstances of these one and a half million people is something that also makes us proud.”
Infantino did not directly dispute Rowley’s claim – which Qatar denied after Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that 6,500 workers died building infrastructure to host the first World Cup in a Middle Eastern country in November. Infantino said only three people had died in the construction of the stadiums.
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