Article by Alexandru Barbu – Published Thursday, November 24, 2022, 4:30 p.m. / Updated Thursday, November 24, 2022 4:53 p.m.
The CTP has been unabashedly critical of FIFA policy, describing the final tournament in Qatar as “the saddest and most difficult to watch since 1962” and vehemently challenging Gianni Infantino, the president of the Zurich-based organisation.
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Cristian Tudor Popescu: “FIFA seems only interested in money. Infantino is almost unbearable to watch”
– Mr. Popescu, what do you think about the controversy in Qatar sparked in around the “One Love” band?
– The image that FIFA showed us with this World Championship is pathetic! At the same time, it is a threatening one! The speech of that individual who is the president of FIFA, Mr. Infantino, reminds me of a mob boss! That’s not because he’s Italian. If Mr. Blatter, his predecessor, had the air of a great swindler, Infantino talks like a football underdog.
– What do you mean exactly?
– He has some speeches where he says: “What, we are the Police? Are we making new orders? What do we have to do with what is happening in Qatar?”. These bans applied to national teams and players seem absolutely scandalous to me! What does the fact that some players want to express an attitude have to do with the football game? What to do, for example, with the national team of Iran, which refused to sing the national anthem because of the crimes and atrocities that Iran commits against its own citizens?
– Denmark is considering completely disassociating itself from FIFA.
– I understand the Danes’ revolt, FIFA seems only interested in money, not sport. She is not interested in the real and serious problems of the world today. FIFA is basically pretending not to hear or see what is really happening.
– The German Federation even raised the issue of human rights.
– That’s what it’s about! Human rights do not apply in sports? If you use your right in sports, in this case you express an attitude, what the Germans wanted, you are brutally censored! This is not a matter of politics. Human rights are not about politics, they are fundamental issues that must be respected! Before they are footballers, these athletes are people. I find the attitude of this organization called FIFA disgusting, some action needs to be taken there. Sinister habits have taken root there, characters have been promoted by arrangement, it’s a rotten organism that needs a fundamental reform.
– Do you think there should be a convention from the start, so that FIFA or UEFA do not award final tournaments to countries that have their own vision of human rights, such as Qatar, which punishes homosexuality and Muslims by law?
– Well, what are we doing, are we going to organize in North Korea as well? Vasazica, the judgment of this Infantino sounds like this: “We don’t care that in Qatar women are raped, that homosexuals are killed, we don’t care that foreign workers died by the thousands and were treated like slaves by the local sheikhs. This is about football. Instead, we are interested when some national teams put a band on their hand, which is a matter of attitude”. It is only here that FIFA takes action, but Qatar is not prohibited from doing anything. It’s almost unbearable to watch this Infantino!
– You also see a demagoguery of the national teams that chose to participate in this World Cup and limited themselves to only symbolic protests, as the gesture made by the Germans before the match against Japan or the ‘One Love’ initiative?
– Maybe he should have refused to participate. I would have admired and welcomed with all my heart the gesture of some national teams, even among the big ones, to simply not participate in this shameful World Championship, not to buy into the FIFA arrangements. But, if they still came there, they had the right not to be forbidden these gestures, which are neither aggressive nor violent. It’s the saddest and hardest World Championship I’ve ever seen! And since 1962 I’ve seen them all.
CTP: “I would like Argentina to win, but Spain and France are the favorites for the World Cup”
– Otherwise, what impression will the quality of the matches so far leave?
– Honestly, I had fun. I heard all kinds of opinions from specialized people with great experience who appeared on TV and said that there are too many weak teams, from Asia, Australia, Africa, they said that some matches will be played for nothing. So I was happy when Saudi Arabia won with Argentina and Japan with Germany. Japan impressed me the most, they even beat Germany in soccer. They were quick, percussive, brave. Such victories help a country like Japan, quickly raise the interest and level of football there, children will come to football in greater numbers after these matches.
– Do you have a favorite at the World Championship?
– I would like Argentina to win, for Messi, but it is difficult. It is clearly a disjointed team, even if Argentina has so many individual values. They are not seasoned and cannot play effectively against a team that does not have so many values, but which is more solid, more compact. I don’t think he has much of a chance. Under these conditions, I would like England to win. I really like the way England play. I like English football in general. The Premier League is my favorite league, they have very good players, like Foden, Kane. Realistically speaking, Spain and France have the best chances.
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