FIFA president Gianni Infantino's rambling tirade was first own goal of the World Cup

The first deflection of the World Cup came from Gianni Infantino. Maybe even an own goal.

The FIFA president, who told the teams to focus on the football, did anything but on the eve of kick-off.

He was determined to call out what he perceives as critics' hypocrisy - delivering a moral lecture of his own.

There seemed to be a reference to colonialism when he claimed Europeans had no right to criticise Qatar - and should be apologising instead for their own conduct for the next 3,000 years.

An attempt to show empathy appeared performative when he said, bizarrely: "Today I feel gay… today I feel [like] a migrant worker."

He even tried to equate his own family's experience, migrating from Italy to Switzerland, with the workers who came to Qatar for low-paid jobs, often in brutal conditions.

Countless died prematurely. The lack of post-mortem examinations means we will never know the full human cost of Qatar hosting the World Cup with £200bn of new infrastructure.

Mr Infantino's rambling tirade - lasting more than an hour before questions were taken at the news conference - drew fresh attention to Qatar's suitability as tournament host.

With no local officials speaking to the media this week, he seemed to be the voice of the Middle Eastern country.

But while he dismissed criticism of Qatar, scrutiny he considers to be hypocritical has produced changes leading to improved working condition for migrant workers.

This is a World Cup host implausibly chosen by FIFA 12 years ago.

Corruption investigations were fended off by Qatar, ensuring the eight stadiums are now ready to stage 64 World Cup matches and, maybe, the last international tournament for Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo and his Argentine rival Lionel Messi.

It all starts on Sunday with Qatar making their World Cup debut against Ecuador after an opening ceremony that won't just be about celebrating the football to come.

After taking 12 years of attacks, Qatar hopes to celebrate as a nation - projecting a power eclipsing the tiny size of this nation.

But Mr Infantino will be hoping his lavish praise does not come back to bite him.

After all, a few years ago he was flattering 2018 host Russia and Vladimir Putin despite the concerns of human rights activists.

FIFA then had to ban Russia from this World Cup for invading Ukraine.