FIFA media chief defends Infantino against critics, insisting 'he does care'

Getty Images via FIFA

A leading voice at FIFA has dismissed criticism of Gianni Infantino and says personal experience has convinced him the organisation's president cares deeply about the LGBTQ+ community.

The World Cup gets under way in Qatar on Sunday and Infantino has come under fire for his staunch defence of a country that classes homosexuality as a crime.

At the end of an extraordinary press conference in Doha on Saturday, during which Infantino addressed this issue as well as other criticisms of Qatar by stating "I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel [like] a migrant worker", he was backed by FIFA's director of media relations, Bryan Swanson.

Swanson, a well-known figure in British media following a long stint at Sky Sports, said: "I've seen a lot of criticism of Gianni Infantino since I've joined FIFA, in part from the LGBTQ+ community.

"I am sitting here in a privileged position, on a global stage, as a gay man here in Qatar.

"We have received assurances that everyone is welcome and I believe that everybody will be welcomed in this World Cup.

"Just because Gianni Infantino is not gay does not mean he does not care, he does care.

"You see the public side, I see the private side and we have spoken on a number of occasions about this.

"I thought long and hard about whether to mention this in this news conference but I do feel strongly about it.

"We care at FIFA about everyone, we are an inclusive organisation. I have a number of gay colleagues so sitting here, I'm fully aware of the debate. I fully respect everyone's right and opinions to think differently.

"I get it but I also know what we stand for and when he [Infantino] says we are inclusive, he means it."