Todays biggest topic at the Play the Game in Aarhus was FIFA’s first ever apperance at the conference.
Walter de Gregorio, FIFA’s director of communication, was the represent for the International Football Federation and among the topics discussed were the election of Russia and Qatar as hosts for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022.
The famous FIFA critical journalist, Andrew Jennings, was present when De Gregorio took the stage and answered questions from the audience.
Accuses FIFA for lying
And Jennings was not impressed by De Gregorios statements.
”FIFA is a bunch of lying crooks. No matter what they say, they are in for the money. They are a bunch of thiefs.” Jennings claims.
There has been a big discussion in the sports world about the election of Russia and Qatar as hosts for the World Cup because of their laws and lack of human rights.
Russia passed a law this year that criminalizes “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” and has been critized for this from the international society.
Racist chanting in Russia
And last week the Manchester City player Yaya Toure claimed that there was racist chanting from the Russian team CSKA Moscow’s supporters.
Jennings and other critics have expressed that FIFA should take this into consideration about Russias World Cup hosting. But De Gregorio said earlier today at the conference that it isn’t that easy.
“Everybody talks about racism. I completely agree that the problem should be adressed. But what do you do? How do you know that five persons in a stadium being racist are not manipulated. That would be very easy to do. How can you prevent that?” De Gregorio said.
But Jennings belives that this is empty talk from FIFA’s side.
”There’s is a problem. We all know that. FIFA could say to Russia: You need to change this because it’s important for us. And if you don’t, then we are not coming. The sport organisations like FIFA have manifestos and mission statements and all this shit where they talk about human rights and respect for people. But they only care about the money.” Jennings said.
”And then we have the homophobic problem. The thing is that they made a law about that gays can’t have same rights. It’s not just an attitude. It’s a law. FIFA should react and say that it isn’t acceptable. But they don’t care about the homophobic law in Russia. For them we are a bunch of liberals making to much noise. It’s not their concern.”
Disagrement on human standards
De Gregorio stressed that countries should have a human minimum standard. But stated that many Western countries also have problems. De Gregorio asked if USA could host with Guantanamo? He also belives that Qatar will make changes, now that the whole world is looking at them.
Not surprisingly, Jennings didn’t agree.
”But theres is a difference between these countries. In the USA you are allowed to demonstrate against Guantanamo. If you demonstrate againt the homophobic law in Russia and in Qatar, who have the same rule, you could go to prison.” Jennings said.
Jennings: FIFA is hypocritical
”Why should Qatar change? They got the World Cup. And obviously they can’t lose it because FIFA don’t care. FIFA is hypocritical. On one hand they have these statements for women rights and they support women football. And on the other hand they give the World Cup to a country where women can’t show their faces. Its a discrase. Its simple: FIFA is a bunch of hypocritical liars,” Jennings says.
You can also watch Andrew Jennings and Walter de Gregorio talking about other FIFA topics in the videos below.