The opening week of the World Cup began in bizarre fashion: a press conference with Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, accusing critics of the tournament of hypocrisy and claiming his own experience gave him a window into that of others: ‘Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker.’
It came after an earlier plea from Fifa to keep politics out of the tournament but it has been a week dominated by off-pitch issues and protests. Michael Safi has been in Doha and hears how fans are experiencing the first World Cup in the Middle East. For sportswriters Sean Ingle and Louise Taylor, it is a tournament like no other and despite the entreaties from the authorities to focus on the football, protests have made all the headlines. There was the Iranian national team who refused to sing their national anthem in protest at the bloody repression across their country, and then Germany whose hands-over-mouth gesture clearly referred to Fifa’s denial of their right to wear pro-LGBT armbands.
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