In a letter sent to all 32 teams participating in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has urged the nations to focus “on football” instead of protests against the host nation.

“Please, let’s now focus on the football!” Infantino and Fatma Samoura, the Secretary General of FIFA wrote, asking the 32 footballing federations to “not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”

Qatar has come under increased scrutiny for its treatment of the labour class that helped the tiny nation build billions of dollars worth of stadiums among other issues with many teams criticising the country in some way ahead of the FIFA World Cup.

“We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world,”

“At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world. One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity.”

“No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other. This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football.”

The letter is unlikely to deter teams from continuing with silent protest. Eight European teams have committed to their captains wearing heart-shaped armbands — in breach of FIFA rules — to support an anti-discrimination campaign.

Several coaches and federations have backed calls to create a compensation fund for migrant workers’ families while Denmark’s squad will wear a black team jersey as a sign of “mourning” for those who died in Qatar.

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