Fifa chief hails Qatar's World Cup as 'best ever'

Infantino says overall it's been a success, having attracted a total of 1.7 million people in fan zones, with 80,000 fans attending those areas daily

By Reuters

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Published: Fri 16 Dec 2022, 7:30 PM

The tournament in Qatar is the "best World Cup ever", and it also kept political messaging away from the football so that fans could enjoy "a little moment of pleasure and joy", FifaPresident Gianni Infantino said on Friday.

Speaking two days before the final between Argentina and France, Infantino defended Fifa's decision not to allow teams to display any messages on their shirts or team captains' armbands.

"It is not about prohibiting. It's is about respecting regulations," he told a news conference. "On the field of play we play football."

"You need to respect the field of play. This is nothing new."

The World Cup in Doha had led to a significant amount of political discussion, with some teams voicing concerns about the host's treatment of migrant labour, its approach to LGBT rights and Fifa's threats to penalise players for political statements.

Germany's soccer federation was among the most vocal in pressing for anti-discrimination "OneLove" armbands to be worn by players.

Before their surprise opening defeat by Japan, the German team posed for a pre-match photo with their hands on their mouths, alluding to them being silenced by Fifa.

"Maybe everyone has his own problems. They (fans) just want to spend 90 minutes or 100 minutes or 120 minutes with penalties without having to think about anything else. Just enjoying a little moment of pleasure and joy, of emotions," Infantino said.

"We have to give these people a moment in time where they can forget their problems and enjoy football. Outside of the match everybody can express their views and opinions."

Qatar invested a reported $200 billion in the tournament but after two weeks had received over 765,000 visitors.

Infantino said overall the tournament, which ends with the final on Sunday, had so far been a success, having attracted a total of 1.7 million people in the fan zones, with some 80,000 fans attending those areas daily.

Average attendance also stood at 52,000 per match, some 5,000 more spectators than at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In total, Infantino said, some 3.27 million spectators - domestic and international - were recorded with two matches still remaining. The total figure for the entire tournament in 2018 was 3.03 million.

"It was very, very successful, but touch wood, two matches to go," he said.

"Focus until the end and then we will of course confirm these feelings that we have now."


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