This week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino won his re-election to a final term as the organization’s leader – while running unopposed, to be clear – and he celebrated with quite a wild and rather offensive statement during his speech to the FIFA Congress.
This year’s FIFA Congress took place in Kigali, Rwanda. And according to soccer reporter Matt Slater of The Athletic, Infantino had some controversial comments to open his speech, comparing his rise to FIFA’s presidency to the country’s rise from genocide, in an extremely tone-deaf attempt to connect with the local audience.
“Man of destiny Gianni Infantino opens the FIFA Congress in Kigali by comparing his victory in 2016 FIFA presidential election to Rwanda’s recovery from genocide,” Matt Slater said in a tweet.
Man of destiny Gianni Infantino opens the FIFA Congress in Kigali by comparing his victory in 2016 FIFA presidential election to Rwanda’s recovery from genocide. pic.twitter.com/TceHsm5lhN
— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) March 16, 2023
Naturally, these comments drew quite a bit of attention and criticism from the soccer world, who offered plenty of reactions on Twitter.
Next stop: naming the months of year the after himself? Statue of himself in solid gold outside FIFA HQ? https://t.co/LKiqnNGxOt
— David Patrikarakos (@dpatrikarakos) March 16, 2023
Next week’s cartoon sorted. Nice one Gianni. https://t.co/q56GK9E1H7
— David Squires (@squires_david) March 16, 2023
Uh, I think maybe I’ll go back to sleep for a couple hours. https://t.co/5WYJeYVVpd
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) March 16, 2023
this is a lot to wake up to https://t.co/cL8vZfhEQv
— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) March 16, 2023
I honestly do not believe that someone can be this tonedeaf without doing it on purpose https://t.co/75X1zPR4ZS
— Casey Evans (@Casey_Evans_) March 16, 2023
Infantino has become notorious for his controversial and tone-deaf comments. At the World Cup, he infamously deflected criticism of Qatar for its human rights violations, claimed that he knew about discrimination because he had red hair, and suggested that the next World Cup could be held in Iran amid a cultural revolution for their treatment of women.
It’s worth noting, this will be his final term as the organization’s president.