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2022 World Cup: Denmark reignites European feud with FIFA in Qatar

European football again showed its public frustration with FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Wednesday at the World Cup – this time in a camp in Denmark.

Denmark has pledged not to vote for Infantino, who is running unopposed for re-election in March. The president of the Danish football federation, Jesper Møller, has also hinted that he wants to leave FIFA membership.

“I thought about it again,” Møller told Danish media in Qatar. “I imagine there could be challenges if Denmark resigns on its own. But let’s see if we can’t have a dialogue.”

Denmark’s troubles with the FIFA president came ahead of the World Cup, said Møller, who is a member of UEFA’s executive committee, but tensions with Europe have intensified in recent days.

Infantino used the press conference on the eve of the tournament to chide the European public and media for what he said was hypocritical in criticizing World Cup host Qatar.

FIFA’s threats to show yellow cards to captains who wanted to wear an unauthorized armband as part of the “One Love” anti-discrimination campaign forced seven European teams off Monday hours before three matches.

It was an unprecedented World Cup feud as FIFA faced off against the players on a day of preparation for one of the most important matches of their careers.

At a camp in Germany, officials said on Tuesday they were considering legal challenges to FIFA’s tactics at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court said no appeal has yet been filed.

“We have to react to it,” Møller said. “We will get to it together with other countries. We’re in this together.”

Denmark also annoyed FIFA and Qatar with the team’s jersey design, which highlighted dissatisfaction with the host country’s record on human rights and treatment of migrant workers. The team has a third black jersey option, chosen as the “color of mourning” for the workers who died in Qatar.

During Tuesday’s Denmark opening match, former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt wore a rainbow armband to protest Qatar’s record on LGBTQ rights. Møller and Infantino also attended the match, which ended in a 0–0 draw.

Infantino claimed he was supported by more than 200 of FIFA’s 211 member associations over the weekend to seek re-election. Denmark and Germany have publicly announced that they will not vote for him.

The deadline for nominating candidates expired on November 16, days before the members’ meeting in Doha on Sunday, and no challenger had filed the five valid statements of support required to run. The election meeting will take place on March 16 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Infantino was a longtime UEFA employee and rose to become its general secretary when he was elected head of FIFA in 2016.

His presidency saw several disagreements with former European colleagues over football policy issues, and he lives in Qatar ahead of the World Cup while working more closely with Africa.

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