nfantino Now Suggests World Cup Teams Could Be Banned From Back-to-Back Tournaments
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has sparked further anger with his biannual World Cup plans by insisting that countries could be banned from playing in back-to-back tournaments.
The controversial idea of hosting the tournament every two years, first floated by Arsene Wenger, has made headlines around the world and has been widely condemned.
Infantino is in a PR overdrive to convince people of the plans, but his latest comments have left fans little reassured.
Gianni Infantino is desperately trying to convince people of the biannual World Cup plans
FIFA wants to hold World Cup every two years, but incredibly could ban countries from participating in back-to-back tournaments
Tiago Craveiro, the general secretary of the Portuguese federation, suggested that FIFA explore the possibility of not allowing teams to compete in successive editions if it continues with biennial World Cups.
“I also welcome Thiago’s idea of saying, we need more participation and maybe there is a way to do that by holding two World Cups, but not with the same teams participating,” Infantino said.
‘I do not know. This is something that the tech folks will study, but this is definitely something we need to look into. And the fact that we want to have more games for more teams, more meaningful games for more teams around the world, that’s also something that needs to be part of our reflection.”
The FIFA president spoke at a meeting closed to the media on Tuesday, at which UEFA member associations also expressed a wave of opposition to his plans to double the frequency of World Cups. A copy of the recording was obtained by the Associated Press.
Infantino was also challenged by presidents of national federations over the damage that would be done to not only club competitions but national teams if FIFA were to radically overhaul the international game despite European opposition.
But Infantino then touted the reform of world football as necessary to secure the sport’s future.
Infantino faced criticism in a recent conversation with several European football associations
Arsene Wenger (above) is leading a bid to make the soccer tournament biennial
“I also believe that the enemy of football is not the World Cup or FIFA, but other activities that young boys and young girls are running after today,” Infantino said in the closing remarks of the meeting that lasted more than an hour. .
“And we have to see how we can together and together make them interested in football again. And as far as I’m concerned, we all want to do that together, as we have always done in recent years.’
Infantino did not specify what those “other activities” were. He did not respond to a call from the AP requesting comment and FIFA did not immediately comment on the comments.
Keeping younger viewers interested in watching 90-minute matches has become an increasing challenge, especially given the rise of gaming. Infantino’s comments come amid a dispute with FIFA video game maker EA Sports over the future of the product, but FIFA itself still embraces esports.
The International Olympic Committee also over the weekend denounced FIFA’s attempt to reform the calendar, which could result in a men’s or women’s World Cup every year.
The IOC has said it “shares” concerns over FIFA’s plans for a World Cup every two years
The IOC has begun to embrace sports considered more appealing to young people, with skateboarding debuting at the recent Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Paris Games introducing the sport of breakdance.
FIFA’s plans could have a significant impact on the Olympics, where the women’s football league has no age restrictions, unlike the men’s league. “I think we can still find ways to further develop football,” Infantino said during the meeting with UEFA.
“The World Cup is huge. It’s a big, big competition from which everyone benefits from the World Cup and we have to be very careful about what we do with the World Cup.’
Leaders from the Finnish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Romanian, Scottish, Spanish and Swiss federations told Infantino they want to continue to hold the World Cup every four years.
Infantino says plans will bring youth back to football in a world dominated by esports
They cited the impact on players’ wellbeing from more frequent tournaments, the pitfalls of having only one block of qualifiers in October and November, and the potential damage caused to the growing profile of the women’s game by holding more men’s competitions.
“As far as I’m concerned, we will not go ahead with a proposal if anyone is injured,” Infantino said during the virtual meeting with UEFA. But Infantino also said that it was not only the opinion of UEFA, which has 55 member associations, that counted.
Infantino has pushed for approval in December to host World Cups every two years. “We can’t just shape new proposals based on feedback from Europe,” he said. “We have to respect everyone’s opinion.”