Israeli reporters covering the FIFA World Cup in Qatar have complained of facing “humiliation” and “hate” because soccer fans from around the world refuse to speak to them. In dozens of videos shared on social media, soccer fans are seen turning their backs on Israeli reporters once they find out that they come from the apartheid state. Arab fanatics, in particular, often take the opportunity to call for the liberation of Palestine and an end to Israeli apartheid. The situation has even forced Israeli reporters to awkwardly pretend they are from a different country. “We feel hated, surrounded by hostility and unwanted,” Raz Shechnik, media and music correspondent for Israeli news outlet Yedioth Ahronoth, wrote in an opinion piece published Nov. 27. “After a while, we decided to claim that we were Ecuadorian when someone asked us where we were from,” Shechnik continues, stating that the experience has definitely not been “fun.”
In a full-throated defense of 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a press conference on Saturday, “Today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel a migrant worker…because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied.” Criticizing the West, and Europe in particular, for migration policies, corporate profiteering off of Gulf oil, and “what we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years around the world,” Infantino tried to draw attention away from multiple controversies plaguing the 2022 World Cup. FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, is expected to bring in $6.5 billion in revenue from this year’s World Cup, a 25% jump from the 2018 games. Infantino himself made $3.2 million in 2019 alone.