By G9ija

On the eve of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, the President of FIFA Gianni Infantino has urged the global community to seize the unique opportunity the tournament provides to unite – despite differences – over its shared passion of football; and under the banner of tolerance, understanding and respect, use the global game as its vehicle to connect, rather than divide.

Speaking at a press conference in front of more than 400 accredited members of the global media, Gianni Infantino said that now – more than ever – was the time to speak about the positives the FIFA World Cup™ brings to the lives of millions of people in Qatar, and across the world.

“The only thing I’m asking you. Engage. Help. Don’t divide, try to unite,” President Infantino said during his opening address at the media conference. “The world is divided enough. We are organising a FIFA World Cup, we’re not organising a war. We organise a FIFA World Cup where people who have many problems in his or her life try to come and enjoy.”

The 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup begins at Al Bayt Stadium on 20 November, when Qatar take on Ecuador. More than 1.5 million fans are due to travel to Qatar for the tournament, with official ticket sales standing at 2.95 million.

Infantino called on those already in Qatar, those planning to visit and those covering the tournament for the global media to look to the joys the 29-day festival of football will bring. The President also emphasised that how – despite differences in background, religion, gender or sexuality – for the first time in FIFA World Cup history supporters of all 32 nations will be able to gather in one place, and bond to bond over one shared passion.

“Look at the city, it’s beautiful, it’s geared up. People want to celebrate,” Infantino continued. “We have to spread understanding. FIFA is a global football organisation. We have 211 countries which are a part of FIFA. Every association is the same because we are football people. We want to be football people; we don’t want to be politicians or whatever else. And football brings people together – in spite of everything, because only engagement can bring real change.”

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the first edition of the tournament to take place in the Arab world. Another important opportunity, President Infantino said, to open hearts and minds, and provide opportunities to experience new cultures – something the FIFA President urged the assembled media to experience during their time in Doha.

“This particular FIFA World Cup will help to open the eyes of many people from the Western world to the Arab world,” President Infantino added. “We’re living in the same world, we have to live together, we have to understand each other, we have to understand that we are different as well.”

Infantino continued: “We have different beliefs, we have different history. We come from different backgrounds, but we are from the same world. We need to get along with each other – and to get along with each other, we need to know each other; that’s why you have to come here and you have to tell what you see.”

“We have beautiful stadiums, we have a city that wants to welcome the world, let’s please, please celebrate and hope that we can give some smiles to some people around the world.”