FIFA president Gianni Infantino has attacked western "hypocrisy" for criticising World Cup hosts Qatar.
In an extraordinary hour-long monologue at a media conference in Doha on Saturday, Infantino said he related to Qatar's migrant workers because he was bullied as a child for having red hair and freckles.
"I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country," he told reporters.
"As a child I was bullied because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian, so imagine.
"What do you do then?
"You try to engage, make friends. Don't start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging.
"And this is what we should be doing."
Infantino was born in Switzerland to Italian immigrant parents.
He moved to Doha to temporarily live in October last year ahead of football's showcase tournament which kicks off on Sunday (Monday AEDT).
Infantino said westerners, in particular Europeans, had no right to criticise Qatar, which has been under fire for human rights abuses in the lead-up to the cup.
Human rights groups say thousands of migrant workers died in building infrastructure in Qatar to ready for the cup, the first staged in the Middle East.
"I am European," Infantino said.
"For what we have been doing for 3000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3000 years before giving moral lessons.
"I have difficulties understanding the criticism ... we should all educate ourselves.
"Many things are not perfect but reform and change takes time.
"This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy.
"I wonder why no-one recognises the progress made here since 2016.
"It is not easy to take the critics of a decision that was made 12 years ago.
"Qatar is ready. It will be the best World Cup ever."
Infantino said competing players and coaches should not be chastised.
"If you need to criticise anybody, don't put pressure on the players, the coaches," he said.
"You want to criticise, you can crucify me. I'm here for that.
"Don't criticise anyone. Don't criticise Qatar. Let people enjoy this World Cup."
And he lashed at western reporting focusing on human rights and same-sex relations, which are illegal in Qatar.
"What has been put on the table in the past few months is something quite incredible," he said.