Infantino says he has majority support for biennial World Cup
Fifa President Gianni Infantino believes he has majority support for his two-year World Cup plan, after national soccer leaders were told the change would create an additional $ 4.4 billion in revenue for the World Cup. global body.
Fifa has organized a “world summit” of leaders of national football federations to discuss its proposal to increase the frequency of the World Cup from four to two years.
The financial data is part of a comprehensive feasibility study, of which Fifa presented a summary on Monday with a full 700-page report due for release.
The optimistic conclusions contrast sharply with the analysis advanced by the critics of the proposals.
There has been opposition from European clubs, top leagues and UEFA’s European governing body, whose president Aleksander Ceferin has threatened to boycott any further tournaments.
No vote is yet due for the plan, but Infantino has said a majority is in place for the idea but needs to be addressed as part of the broader overhaul of the international match schedule.
“If I were to vote tomorrow, the majority would probably vote for a World Cup every two years,” Infantino said at a post-summit press conference.
“But that’s not the point, we are looking at the whole schedule and how we can improve football and how much we can involve with a new way of organizing the future of football,” he added.
‘OPEN AND FLEXIBLE’
Infantino did not say when a vote would take place or if it would be on the agenda for the FIFA congress in Doha on March 31.
“It is about making the right decisions for football at the end of the day and we will take the time it takes to arrive at that decision. I will not commit to anything at the congress. Everything is open and flexible,” did he declare. noted.
“We are continuing the dialogue, the analysis, we hope we can move forward, one way or another, or a middle way, we will see,” he said.
A compromise solution was proposed by Concacaf President Victor Montagliani, who heads the confederation for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Montagliani told Reuters earlier this month that an additional tournament could be a revamped version of the old Confederations Cup rather than a full World Cup with a separate qualifying process.
Last month, a report commissioned by the World Leagues Forum said Fifa’s proposal, coupled with changes to the Club World Cup, could cost major domestic football leagues and UEFA around $ 8 billion. euros ($ 9 billion) per season in lost television rights and on game day. and trade agreements.
UEFA released a report on Friday that it had commissioned from consultancy firm Oliver & Ohlbaum which warned that changes to the international calendar would cause the revenues of European national federations to drop to between € 2.5 billion and € 3 billion (3 , $ 38 billion) over four years. cycle.
“THE FEAR-BASED OPPOSITION”
Delegates to Monday’s summit learned that a report by Italian firm Open Economics found that revenues from domestic leagues and UEFA competitions had not been affected by national teams and international club competitions.
A Nielsen report predicted that the two-year World Cup plan would see revenue drop from an expected $ 7 billion – for a 48-team tournament – to $ 11.4 billion over a four-year cycle thanks to the increased ticket revenues, media rights and sponsorship revenues.
Fifa officials told delegates that $ 3.5 billion in additional revenue would go to a new “Member Association Solidarity Fund,” with each national federation allocating around $ 16 million over a four-year period, while that additional funds would also be paid to the Fifa Forward program. for development projects.
Fifa said the funds would help narrow the income gap between developed and less developed football markets.
Along with UEFA, the South American Confederation Conmebol opposed the proposal.
Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s global football development manager, said he hopes the debate will change in the coming weeks.
“We are faced with opposition but what I regret is that 90% of this opposition is made up of emotions and not facts and not analyzes, we have to overcome this fear because most of the emotions that we face are based on fear, ”he said.