Infantino demands harmony ahead of World Cup opener
Speaking to the media yesterday, Infantino said that now – more than ever – was the time to speak about the positives the FIFA World Cup brings to the lives of millions of people in Qatar, and across the world.
“The only thing I’m asking you is to engage, help, don’t divide and try to unite. The world is divided enough. We are organising a FIFA World Cup, we’re not organising a war. We organise a FIFA World Cup where people who have many problems in their lives try to come and enjoy.”
The 22nd FIFA World Cup begins at Al Bayt Stadium, today when Qatar take on Ecuador. More than 1.5 million fans are due to travel to Qatar for the tournament, with official ticket sales standing at 2.95 million.
Mr. Infantino called on those already in Qatar, those planning to visit and those covering the tournament for the global media to look to the joys the 29-day festival of football will bring.
The FIFA boss also emphasised how – despite differences in background, religion, gender or sexuality – for the first time in FIFA World Cup history supporters of all 32 nations will be able to gather in one place, and bond over one shared passion.
“Look at the city, it’s beautiful, it’s geared up. People want to celebrate. We have to spread understanding. FIFA is a global football organisation. We have 211 countries, which are a part of FIFA. Every association is the same because we are football people. We want to be football people; we don’t want to be politicians or anything else. And football brings people together – in spite of everything because only engagement can bring real change,” he said.
He added: “This particular FIFA World Cup will help to open the eyes of many people from the Western world to the Arab world. We’re living in the same world, we have to live together, we have to understand each other, and we have to understand that we are different as well.
“We have different beliefs, we have a different history. We come from different backgrounds, but we are from the same world. We need to get along with each other – and to get along with each other, we need to know each other; that’s why you have to come here and you have to tell what you see.
“We have beautiful stadiums, we have a city that wants to welcome the world, let’s please, please celebrate and hope that we can give some smiles to some people around the world.”