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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Andy Dunn

FIFA got dream World Cup final but Gianni Infantino and VIPs behaviour has been sickening

Seriously, if Salt Bae and Gianni Infantino pose for another photo at this World Cup, someone is going to throw up. Me, probably.

In stadiums built by migrant workers who have seen their friends die and suffer while being paid a pittance to slave in searing heat, the VVIP culture within these arenas - and in the umpteen-star hotels used by FIFA - has been truly sickening.

Have they not got a jot of self-awareness? In their padded thrones in the stands, with their gold name plaques, and their Michelin-starred restaurants, are they utterly tone deaf? Or, actually, do they just not care?

That, folks, is the definition of a rhetorical question. Of course, they don’t care. Infantino does not care that he looks like a man in thrall to celebrity, power and the luxuries that go with that territory. Because that is what he is.

And, as a man who has relocated his family to Qatar - his primary residence for the past 12 months - and is clearly close to the ruling regime, he will be insufferably smug over these next few days, because this is their dream final. The football team of Qatar was never going to make any sort of impression on this tournament.

Had the organisers not made a late switch and enabled them to play a stand-alone opening game, no-one would have noticed they were taking any significant part in proceedings.

So, there was never going to be a home storyline to lift this World Cup but now, they - FIFA and Qatar - have got the perfect denouement. It is Kylian Mbappe versus Lionel Messi. For Infantino, the attraction is multi-layered.

One of the Greatest Of All Time against someone destined to be one of the Greatest Of All Time. It’s the sort of big-name bonanza that he can only fantasise about. And then there are his Qatari mates.

Mbappe and Messi are the poster players of Paris St Germain, owned by Qatari Sports Investments, headed by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, close friend of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin.

There is no denying that, from the organisers’ point of view, this has all fallen into place. Any gestures highlighting the issues surrounding migrant workers and the rights of, amongst others, the LGBTQ+ community have long been forgotten.

AL KHOR, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: President of the World Football Association FIFA Gianni Infantino during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and USA at Al Bayt Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Mohammad Karamali/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) (Mohammad Karamali/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Not that many gestures were actually made, as anyone following the Football Association’s conduct throughout the tournament will know. Nope, prepare yourself for a bonanza of self-congratulation over the next few days.

There is no denying that a France-Argentina final will be compelling. There is no denying that the prospect of Mbappe and/or Messi producing something sensational on the sport’s grandest stage is mouthwatering.

Almost as mouth-watering perhaps as one of the gold leaf-covered $1,000 steaks Turkish restaurateur Salt Bae - Infantino’s best pal, it seems - serves up at his Doha eatery inside a five-star beach resort while migrant workers eat bowls of rice on street corners. It is a truly nauseating contrast. Not that Infantino cares.

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