FIFA president Gianni Infantino has continued a war of words against those opposing a biennial World Cup.
The former UEFA general secretary placed a jab at his former organisation, and the South American federation, by stating they are ‘afraid’ of relinquishing power despite the need for reform.
FIFA President Says Biennial World Cup Opposers Are ‘Afraid’
Gianni Infantino’s jab
Infantino called out UEFA and COMNEBOL whilst speaking at the Confederation of African Nations congress held in Cairo. At the event, the African countries officially supported FIFA’s proposal of a World Cup every two years on Friday.
The FIFA president told the congress: “Those who are against it are those at the top. It happens in every sector of life when there are reforms and changes, those who are at the top don’t want anything to change because they are at the top.
“And they are afraid maybe that if something changes, their leadership position is at risk. We understand that and we complement and applaud them for having been so successful in reaching the top. This is fantastic, and they are an example for everyone.
“But at the same time, we cannot close the door, we need to keep the door open, we need to give hope and opportunities.”
He added: “We need to offer more chances for world football, for African football to shine at the world stage.”
The World Cup plans
FIFA’s plans, suggested by Saudi Arabia and fronted by Arsene Wenger, simply transform the football schedule from 2024. A World Cup will be held every two years, with the likelihood that continental competitions will follow suit.
Qualifying will be completed in October and March while qualifying matches will be cut from ten to six. Wenger advocates that at least 25 days of compulsory rest will also be introduced. The campaign idea is to have more ‘meaningful’ international matches.
Infantino’s and Wenger’s drive to push through the proposals has been met with stiff resistance.
UEFA fears the plans, if implemented, will ‘kill’ player health and on the balance of club and international football at all levels. Worries about the health of the players have grown. FIFPro’s report showed the damning impact of a tight schedule, and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois publicly lambasted UEFA for not caring what the players think and feel.
Meanwhile, CONMEBOL is united with their European counterparts, stating it “turns its back on almost 100 years of world football tradition”. Both UEFA and CONMEBOL have threatened to boycott the competition if it were introduced.
Another international body, the International Olympic Committee, has fallen in line with the opposition as they are agitated for how it can impact other sports.
“I can see no good reason for it,” Sebastian Coe told The Guardian. “There may be vested interests here but the summer sports are protective about the landscape as it’s hard enough for them as it is to grab space in the traditional or digital media. A biennial World Cup will inevitably start clashing with the Olympic Games too.”
In a stark intervention, Adidas CEO Kasper Rørsted voiced his concerns, agreeing with Coe that there should be room for other sports to grab the limelight.
European leagues, including the top five domestic competitions, have publicly rebutted the project. Fans from across the world have also joined together to speak out against FIFA.