FIFA President Gianni Infantino told reporters that “every person dying is one too many” when asked about the deaths of migrant workers.
Infantino, the boss of world football’s governing body, was speaking to reporters at a press conference in Doha, Qatar, on Friday when asked to clarify how many workers had lost their lives in hosting the World Cup in Qatar.
“I think every person who dies is one too many. It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for the family, it’s a tragedy for everyone involved,” Infantino said.
“When talking about numbers, you always have to be very precise so as not to give the impression of something that is in fact something else.”
In 2021, The Guardian reported that 6,500 South Asian migrant workers had died in Qatar since the country won the World Cup in 2010, most of whom were involved in low-paid and dangerous work, often carried out in scorching heat. extreme.
The report did not link the 6,500 deaths to World Cup infrastructure projects and has not been independently verified by CNN.
However, last year World Cup chief Hassan Al-Thawadi disputed that figure and told CNN’s Becky Anderson that The Guardian’s figure was a ‘sensational headline’ which was misleading and the report lacked. of context.
The issue gained traction following an interview given by Al-Thawadi during the tournament.
A spokesperson for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) confirmed to CNN last week that there were three work-related fatalities during the construction of the World Cup stadiums and 37 non-work related deaths.
“For me, and for us [FIFA]every loss of life is a tragedy and everything we could do to change the legislation to protect the health of workers, to protect the situation of workers, we did it and it happened,” added Infantino.
“Anything we can still do for the future, we do. We will continue to work on this. »
He added: “We want to bring that experience into the future and make sure we can help, we can take advantage of the World Cup and the spotlight that is on the World Cup and football in general, to make the lives of people and their families a little better.”
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With just two days to go until the World Cup final, Infantino praised the volunteers and organizers for putting on the ‘best World Cup ever’ and praised the teams for producing such exciting drama on the pitch. .
The press conference was in stark contrast to Infantino’s opening remarks at the start of the tournament, where he stunned the world with an hour-long tirade against Western reporters and World Cup critics.
On Friday, however, the president looked much more relaxed and tended to avoid talking too much about controversial topics.
He instead sought to talk about the positives of a Middle Eastern country hosting the World Cup for the first time.
“I will wait until the end of the final to judge this World Cup,” he added. “But I already think that the transformative legacy of this World Cup is that many people from all over the world have come to Qatar and discovered an Arab world that they did not know or only knew from this which was described to them.
“At the same time, Qataris, Saudis and Emiratis also welcomed many supporters from all over the world.
“The main legacy is that those who came and those who were there to welcome them actually discovered that what is said or what they thought or what was believed is not true.
“You can hang out together and just enjoy and have a good time and get to know each other better.”