Dear Mr Infantino,
I’m writing to thank you for your bravery in standing up for the much-maligned organisation that you represent. Before your recent speech I had been under the impression that FIFA had taken the World Cup to Qatar in order to earn a lot of money while completely disregarding human rights and the best interests of the clubs and the players. As a longstanding football fan, I found it a huge relief to discover that nothing could be further from the truth and it was in fact a gesture of solidarity made out of the pure-minded determination of FIFA officials to fight against imperialism.
It came as a wonderful revelation to discover that European nations who carried the responsibility for oppressing people in other lands must be made to bear the shame and to make reparations for 3,000 years. Because my fellow residents of Yorkshire have been waiting 2,000 years for recompense for the damage done by the Romans when they invaded. I’m sure that, as an Italian speaker, you will be happy to put this right and make your own contribution. The compensation for all the lead and silver they took out of local mines will come in very handy – a touch late in the day but nevertheless very welcome.
It was also a joy to hear you speak up like Spartacus and proclaim that you are gay, you are poor, you are oppressed and you are a migrant. Otherwise, I might have been inclined to believe that gay people and trans rights activists might be a touch nervous about going to a country where you end up in jail for years if you are open about your sexuality. Or that it is unsafe to criticise the government. Or that the lives of migrant construction workers don’t count for much when impressive stadiums need to be built to tight timescales.
Above all I was overjoyed to learn that you are determined to carry on the good work of using football to engage with previously oppressive regimes and help them to recognise that there are better ways to do things and they can use football to enlighten society. Because I had been a touch concerned that it hadn’t worked in Putin’s Russia and that things had got a lot worse there since your organisation provided him with several weeks of the best propaganda his regime has ever enjoyed. I hadn’t understood that invading other countries was a means of fighting against imperialism. Nor had I realised that putting opponents in solitary confinement for the crime of refusing to die when poisoned by the security services was a sign that engagement by FIFA had helped to change attitudes, open minds and pave the way for reform in the last place where the World Cup was held.
In addition, I must thank you for not claiming to speak for the women of the world in your lengthy initial speech. I imagine many of them were grateful that you chose not to patronise them by assuming you understood their attitude to watching a sporting event in a country where women’s right to work, marry, study or travel are under the control of a male ‘guardian’. Where no women play any significant role in serious government decision-making. Where women’s inequality is recognised and fostered in the law.
I fully understood that you were only trying to be inclusive when you later decided to change your mind and began to patronise women with enthusiasm. It was clearly just a small oversight that you had actually clean forgotten to claim to speak for half the world. It was important to see you making amends by deciding to patronise them equally with gay men and male migrants. It is important to be even handed over these things.
I was also impressed by the way you handled the English and Welsh footballers who decided to speak out for gay rights and migrant workers and wanted to play wearing the one love armband. We can’t allow these privileged role models to stand up for those less fortunate than themselves and behave with decency. Players must be made to shut up and concentrate on the main purpose of the game – making a lot of money – that can be siphoned off by a few.
Finally, I wanted to say that, after hearing you speak, I am confident that the traditions of FIFA remain safe in your hands. We all know what a searingly honest organisation it has been in the past and the great work it has done in stamping out open corruption. We also all know its wonderful track record of channelling funds to poorer footballing nations. I would not wish to think for even a moment that the brown envelopes might ever pass to officials from FIFA or that all the money that passes into the hands of officials might not end up being used to support the game in their country. Or that such eventualities might influence votes over where World Cups are held.
The future of football is clearly safe in your hands. We can clearly rely on you to use it as a force for good in this world. No one need ever wonder again how a World Cup ended up in one of the richest countries of the world. In the middle of a desert. In the middle of the season.
From me, and from everyone else in Yorkshire who enjoys the real game.