FIFA Wants Biennial World Cup Consensus By December 20

File Photo: On this handout picture released by Chile’s National Professional Football Association (ANFP) FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference in Santiago, on October 17, 2021. (Photo by Carlos PARRA / ANFP / AFP)

 

FIFA will try to find a consensus on controversial plans to stage the World Cup every two years, in time for a December 20 summit, its president Gianni Infantino said Wednesday.

The head of world football’s governing body said there had been heated discussions and sharply contrasting opinions on the idea emanating from different global regions.

But Infantino nonetheless said he thought it was possible to reach a compromise position before the virtual global FIFA summit being convened in late December.

“That must be our main objective: to reach a consensus,” he told a press conference in Zurich, following a meeting of the FIFA Council, the organisation’s main decision-making body.

FIFA has been actively pushing the idea of a biennial World Cup, rather than staging the competition every four years.

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It is an incendiary topic given the various interests at stake, between clubs and national teams, domestic leagues and international competitions.

Infantino stressed that so far, FIFA had not asked countries whether or not they agreed with the proposals but had simply presented them to trigger discussion on the future of the game.

Open solution

“We have received some legitimate criticism; we have received a lot of enthusiastic comments as well,” he said.

“I do believe we can reach a consensus because what I’ve said from the beginning is that we’re going to change things only if we are completely convinced that it will be beneficial for everybody,” said Infantino.

Whether a consensus is even possible given the vehement positions of various sections of the game remains open to debate — but the FIFA president seemed nonetheless upbeat.

“I am confident that on December 20 we… can present a common solution. How this will look like? For me, everything is open,” he said.

“I hope we can present really a joint position on December 20 and we will work hard, all of us together, to reach this position.”

Infantino recalled the debate around the establishment of the Champions League in Europe but said rather than destroying national leagues, it had been an “incredible success”.

“It is very, very difficult for people to change — especially things that have been the same for the last 100 years,” he said.

The World Cup has been played every four years, apart from cancellations during World War II, since the inaugural edition in 1930.

Multi-country tournaments

Infantino also suggested the days of one country hosting a World Cup on its own were numbered.

“World Cups organised in one single country are probably a thing of the past. Probably we’ll see more World Cups organised by two or three different countries,” he said.

“If we do so, every region in the world… can not only dream but really plan to organise a World Cup.”

He said co-hosting meant one country was not being asked “to ruin itself in order to organise an event”.

Infantino said that if five countries put together joint bids for World Cups, that with the men’s and women’s tournaments, 100 countries in 20 years “could be sharing the burden — and the pleasure — of hosting a World Cup.

“This would leave in all these countries an important legacy without affecting the economy of the country in a negative way.”

A World Cup every two years would see the tournament clash with the Olympic Games, at which players must be aged under 23, with three exceptions.

The International Olympic Committee on Saturday hit out the plans, expressing concerns on the impact it could have on other sports.

But Infantino insisted: “We are not discussing or threatening to pull out of the Olympics. “On the contrary, football is a proud part of the Olympic movement.”

FIFA To Discuss Biennial World Cup With Coaches This Week

On this handout picture released by Chile’s National Professional Football Association (ANFP) FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference in Santiago, on October 17, 2021. (Photo by Carlos PARRA / ANFP / AFP)

 

FIFA said on Monday it will hold talks with national team coaches this week over the controversial idea of holding the men’s World Cup every two years.

The consultations about the proposals, which have come in for heavy criticism from UEFA and CONMEBOL, the International Olympic Committee, as well as coaches and players, will take place on Tuesday and Thursday.

“The discussions will be led by FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger and will include a range of talking points, including player health, international windows, the frequency of FIFA World Cup finals and other important issues in the game,” football’s governing body said.

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The meetings will be held via online video calls.

“As a coach of the men’s national teams, their input is essential,” former Arsenal boss Wenger said in FIFA’s statement.

“Opportunities for us to come together are few and far between, but we must embrace these occasions as such dialogue helps us all to protect the unique place that football has in the world and to make it truly global.”

The World Cup has been played every four years, apart from cancellations during World War II, since the inaugural edition in 1930.

FIFA also wants major continental tournaments, including the European Championship and Copa America, to be played every two years.

A report from FIFA on the idea is set to be published in November before a global summit by the end of the year.

 

AFP

FIFA Unveils Official Mascot For U-17 Women’s World Cup

Mascot Picture Courtesy FIFA

 

FIFA has unveiled an Asiatic lioness, known as Ibha, as the official mascot for the 2022 U-17 Women’s World Cup to mark exactly one year to go until the tournament kicks off in India.

Interestingly, the unveiling ceremony which took place on Monday in Mumbai coincides with the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child.

Representing “Nari Shakti”, or women’s power, Ibha is a strong, playful, and charming Asiatic lioness that aims to inspire and encourage women and girls by using teamwork, resilience, kindness, and empowering others.

In addition to the meaning behind her name, which approximately translates in Khasi as “one with good vision or judgement”, Ibha also wants to encourage girls in India and around the world to make the right decisions and reach their full potential.

“Ibha is a really exciting and inspiring character, one that young fans across India and around the world will have huge fun enjoying and interacting within the lead-up to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India next year,” said FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman, while describing the mascot’s character.

“2022 is on course to be a hugely significant year for women’s football, with future stars of the game set to showcase their skills in India – just nine months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

“Through the platform of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Ibha will play an important role in engaging with fans, as well as encouraging and inspiring more women and girls across India and beyond to take part and play the game.”

“The launch of the official mascot Ibha is yet another significant milestone achieved on the road to hosting the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022,” LOC Chairman, Praful Patel, also said. “Ibha symbolises courage and strength, which are core qualities of every woman, while also embodying the vibrance and visionary spirit of the tournament.

“Today, also being International Day of the Girl Child, it is an appropriate occasion to reveal the mascot who will stand for a powerful and lively image that will inspire women to take new strides in not just football, but in other walks of life too.”

The next edition of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will take place in India from October 11 to 30, 2022.

European Clubs Call For Talks With FIFA Amid Plans For Biennial World Cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. Infantino on Friday confirmed plans to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 following a meeting in Miami. The new tournament, which has drawn threats of a boycott from leading European clubs, is to be staged in June-July 2021 instead of the Confederations Cup. RHONA WISE / AFP.
File photo: FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019.  RHONA WISE / AFP.

 

The European Club Association has said it is willing to “engage” with FIFA over potential changes to the international calendar but has hit out at world football’s governing body for its attempts to introduce a biennial World Cup.

The ECA, which has nearly 250 members from across Europe with Paris Saint-Germain’s Nasser al-Khelaifi its chairman, complained in a statement released on Friday that there had been “a lack of genuine (or indeed any) consultation” from FIFA about its proposals for a more regular World Cup.

It said it believes changes are needed to the calendar to make it “modernised and simpler”, with fewer windows in which players have to be released by clubs for international duty, “better player protection and health and a balanced approach to club and international football”.

It said it was available “to engage with FIFA to agree what those changes should be”.

READ ALSO: Wenger Criticises ‘Emotional’ Response To Two Year World Cup Plan

However it is not in favour of a World Cup every two years. “There is no room” in the current calendar said Michael Gerlinger, a vice-chairman of the ECA and on its legal advisory panel, earlier this month.

The ECA statement said FIFA’s project would have “a direct and destructive impact on the club game” and “would put players’ health and well-being at risk”.

“They would dilute the value and meaning of club and country competitions” and “diminish and conflict with women’s and youth football”.

The organisation said FIFA was in “direct and unilateral breach of certain obligations”, referring to an agreement, the so-called memorandum of understanding, that is currently in place with the ECA until 2024 and includes “joint approval” on the international calendar.

FIFA said earlier this week that there was “a broad consensus within the game that the international match calendar should be reformed and improved”.

It has invited football’s national federations to an online summit on September 30 to discuss the calendar as it pushes to hold the World Cup every two years instead of four.

FIFA’s plan has also come under attack from UEFA, with European football’s governing body saying it had “serious concerns” and that the World Cup would lose “legitimacy” by being held more often.

AFP

Buhari Receives Infantino, Says Football Is A Major Tool Of National Unity

President Muhammadu Buhari receives FIFA banner from President of Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) , Mr. Gianni Infantino and President of Confederation of African Football, Dr. Patrice Motsepe and Minister of Youth and Sports Mr Sunday Dare during a courtesy visit at the State House Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has described football as a great tool for national unity in the country, restating his government’s resolve to develop the game. 

He made the comment when he received a FIFA delegation led by its President, Gianni Infantino, and the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, at the State House in Abuja on Thursday.

“Our hearts beat as one anytime our teams are playing a football match,” presidential aide, Femi Adesina, quoted his principal as saying. 

“Our youth are always positively engaged when our national football teams are on assignment. Without any doubts here, football is a major tool of national unity”.

President Buhari explained that the country was giving adequate attention to sports and has set up a committee to draw a 10-year plan for football. 

“I expect that the recommendations of this committee will accelerate the development of football,” he told the delegation. “It is my hope that it will further improve the fortunes of the game internationally.”

According to the President, his administration has adopted football as a national asset and is delighted that Nigeria has produced excellent female players who are a force to be reckoned with globally.

“Our National women’s football team, the Super Falcons are a force to reckon with both on the continent and internationally,” he added. 

‘‘Some of our women footballers such as Asisat Oshoala (who only recently became the first African to win the women’s European Champions League with her club Barcelona), Rasheedat Ajibade, Rita Chikwelu, Onome Ebi (who is the only African to have played in five FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals), Desire Oparanozie, and before them Perpetua Nkwocha, Mercy Akide-Udoh, Nkiru Okosieme, and Ann Chiejiene are globally recognised stars.”

 

No Divisions With Football

President Muhammadu Buhari receives a ball from President of Federation of International Football Association (FIF A ), Mr. Gianni Infantino accompanied by President of Confederation of African Football, Dr. Patrice Motsepe, Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare and delegation during a courtesy visit at the State House Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE.

 

The Aisha Buhari Cup (ABC), he said, is a confirmation of the government’s dedication to women’s football. 

‘‘This women’s football competition is a novel idea here and I am sure it will be exciting in its execution for our womenfolk and lovers of football,” he added. ‘‘It is also a confirmation of what we already know about our women.”

In his remark, the FIFA chief who is in the country for the six-nation Aisha Buhari Invitational Football Tournament, restated the global body’s commitment to the development of football in the country.

He also appealed to President Buhari to help in amplifying football’s unifying message. 

“Nigeria is a big football-playing country. We need Nigeria to lead the football movement in the world, together with Africa as a continent,” said Infantino.

“When football is played, there are no divisions in a nation or continent. Football brings people together and to do that, we need important countries like Nigeria.”

FIFA Poll Claims Majority Of Fans Want ‘More Frequent’ World Cup

Players fight for the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Nigeria and Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on September 3, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

 

A majority of football supporters support the idea of a “more frequent” World Cup, according to an online poll published Thursday by FIFA in the midst of a debate on its biennial World Cup project. 

According to the IRIS/YouGov study carried out among 15,000 people “with an interest in football”, 55 percent of respondents want to see the top international competition more often than every four years, says football’s world governing body.

The survey showed that 30 percent would like the World Cup to be held every two years, 11 percent every year, and 14 percent every three years, a highly unusual frequency in international sport.

The survey nevertheless reveals strong differences according to the geographical areas and the age of the respondents.

The most favourable towards this increased frequency are the “younger generations in all regions” and “developing markets”, while older football lovers remain attached to the tradition of a four-yearly tournament which has been in place since the first World Cup in 1930.

This finding will be followed by an “expanded” survey of 100,000 people in “more than one hundred countries”.

FIFA’s controversial proposal of a biennial World Cup, first floated in the 1990s, was revived in March by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now head of football development at FIFA.

The central argument is that a World Cup every two years would create more profits that could be distributed to federations in Africa, Asia and South America, who have a greater reliance on FIFA funds than the wealthy European leagues.

Wenger says the idea would be to have a final phase every summer from 2025-2026, alternating World Cups and continental tournaments like the European Championships and Copa America. Qualifying matches would be grouped together in October, or in October and March.

However, the plan has been rejected by UEFA, the South American Football Confederation, the World Leagues Forum and the powerful European Club Association, all of whom are already struggling with an overloaded schedule.

The FIFPro players’ union denounced Tuesday “the absence of a real dialogue” on the subject, pointing out the “natural physiological limits” of footballers.

Football fans have also voiced their opposition to the proposal.

“It is legitimate for FIFA to do market research, since it has something to sell,” Ronan Evain, coordinator of the Football Supporters Europe network (FSE).

“But if it wants to consult representative organisations, it knows where to find us.”

Any final decision on the proposal would have to be made by a FIFA Congress, which usually takes place in May.

‘No Sporting Justification’: South America Rejects Biennial World Cup

File photo:  The World Cup winner’s trophy is seen during the 68th FIFA Congress at the Expocentre in Moscow on June 13, 2018. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL hit out at FIFA proposals to stage the World Cup every two years on Friday, saying there was “no sporting justification” for shortening the window between tournaments.

In a strongly worded statement which echoed opposition to the proposals by European football’s ruling body UEFA, CONMEBOL said holding the World Cup every two years would diminish the quality of the tournament.

“A World Cup every two years could distort the most important football competition on the planet, lowering its quality and undermining its exclusive character and its current demanding standards,” CONMEBOL said.

“(It) would represent an overload that is practically impossible to manage in the international competition calendar.

“In the current conditions, it is already complex to harmonize times, schedules, logistics, adequate preparation of equipment and commitments.

“The situation would be extremely difficult with the proposed change. It could even put the quality of other tournaments, both club and national, at risk.

“There is no sporting justification for shortening the period between World Cups.”

READ ALSOFIFA ‘Regrets’ Chaos At Abandoned Brazil vs Argentina Match

Fifa To Make Decision On Biennial World Cup ‘By End Of Year’ – Infantino

CONMEBOL said that although it had previously been open to holding the World Cup more frequently, technical analysis had show that the proposals were “highly unviable.”

“Therefore, under current conditions, it ratifies its support for the current World Cup model, with its terms and classification mechanisms, considering it consistent with the spirit that animated those who conceived and founded this competition,” the statement said.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised this week there would be decisions by the end of the year on the proposed World Cup overhaul, which is part of a move to cut out what he called “too many meaningless matches”.

However the FIFA proposals have drawn broad opposition across football, with UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin saying the plan would “dilute” the World Cup and the World Leagues Forum saying it would “undermine” player welfare.

AFP

FIFA Endorses Aisha Buhari Cup As Ranking Tournament

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
FIFA Logo

 

World football governing body, FIFA, has endorsed the maiden edition of the Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament as a ranking tournament.

With this endorsement, the women’s football competition scheduled for 15th – 21st September in Lagos has gone beyond attaining bragging rights and will become more competitive.

The information from FIFA was contained in a letter sent to the Director of Organization of the tournament, Ms Aisha Falode and signed by Sara Booth (MBE), Head of Competitions (Women’s Football Division).

The letter read, inter alia: “We are working very closely with CAF on this particular topic as we want to make sure that all African teams that are playing friendly matches are eligible for ranking points.”

READ ALSOFIFA ‘Regrets’ Chaos At Abandoned Brazil vs Argentina Match

Fifa To Make Decision On Biennial World Cup ‘By End Of Year’ – Infantino

FIFA has also given the local organizing committee authorisation to go ahead and stage the one-week tournament which will take place at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena and Agege Stadium.

Hosts Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Mali, Ghana and Morocco are the six teams to battle for honours at the tournament being staged in honour of the country’s First Lady, Dr (Mrs) Aisha Muhammadu Buhari.

See fixtures for the tournament below:

 

Fifa To Make Decision On Biennial World Cup ‘By End Of Year’ – Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. RHONA WISE / AFP.

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised Wednesday “decisions by the end of the year” on the controversial proposal of staging a World Cup every two years.

The plan, backed by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now director of development at world football’s governing body FIFA, would be part of an extensive shake-up to cut out what Infantino called “too many meaningless matches”.

“We have to have a system which is simple and is clear, which everyone understands, which clearly defines when there are national team games and when there are club games,” he said in an SNTV interview made available to AFP by FIFA.

With the existing international match calendar ending in 2024, “we need to take some decisions by the end of this year”, he said.

READ ALSO: FIFA ‘Regrets’ Chaos At Abandoned Brazil vs Argentina Match

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin warned this week that holding the World Cup every two rather than four years would “dilute” the tournament.

Fans from across the globe were also in favour of keeping the World Cup status quo.

“The overwhelming majority of fans oppose a biennial World Cup cycle, and if FIFA had bothered to engage with us on the subject, they would have known this to be the case,” 58 national fan organisations across the sport’s six confederations said in a joint-statement on Tuesday.

“Why abandon almost a century’s worth of tradition on a whim and with no evidence that it will improve the global game?,” it added.

The World Professional Leagues has added its voice to those opposing the project.

AFP

FIFA ‘Regrets’ Chaos At Abandoned Brazil vs Argentina Match

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
FIFA Logo

 

FIFA said Monday it regretted the chaotic scenes that preceded the suspension of the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina and a decision on possible disciplinary action would be taken “in due course”.

The match at Sao Paulo’s Neo Quimica Arena on Sunday was halted when Brazilian health officials ran onto the pitch seven minutes after kick-off, triggering a melee involving team officials and players from both sides.

The officials intervened just hours after health authorities in Brazil said four England-based players in Argentina’s squad should be placed in “immediate quarantine” for breaching Covid-19 protocols.

“FIFA regrets the scenes preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022 which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world,” football’s world governing body said in a statement.

“The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course,” FIFA added.

Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) said the Argentinian Premier League players — Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham, and Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia — had given “false information” when they entered Brazil.

Romero, Lo Celso and Martinez were all in Argentina’s starting line-up for Sunday’s game, prompting the intervention of ANVISA officials.

In scenes of confusion on the pitch, Argentina captain Lionel Messi and his teammates left the field while Brazil’s squad began a practice game.

After the game was abandoned, Messi criticised the intervention of the Brazilian officials.

“We’ve been here for three days, why are you doing this just now?” he said on Argentina’s TyC network.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni told reporters that “at no time were we told that they could not play the game”.

The Argentina team arrived back in Buenos Aires early Monday.

AFP

Wenger Calls For World Cup Every Two Years

In this file photo, ex-Arsenal French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 29, 2018.  Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has called for the World Cup to be held every two years in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe published on Friday. 

The 71-year-old Frenchman, who is now director of development at FIFA, also called for a single annual period of international qualifiers in a global football calendar.

“The principle would be a grouping of qualifiers every year, and at the end of the season a major competition, World Cup or continental championship,” said Wenger.

“Between the two qualifying windows, the player would stay in his club all year round.

“There must be less of a mix in the calendar between the periods of club football and periods of international football, and therefore fewer transcontinental trips for the players, for example.”

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Steady Demise Hits Rock Bottom

Wenger said he would like to see a single international window, perhaps in October, with fewer qualifying matches.

“For the players, there will be no more matches, and there will be compulsory rest after the final stages, at least 25 days,” said Wenger who sees his proposed new format coming into action in 2028, two years after the 2026 World Cup in North America and Mexico.

“What people want today are high-stakes, easy-to-understand competitions,” he said, insisting there is “no financial intention behind it”.

“It’s a global project, for men’s football, but also for women’s football and youth competitions,” he added.

AFP

FIFA Bans Former CAF President Hayatou

Hayatou
File photo of ex-CAF president, Isa Hayatou.

 

FIFA’s ethics committee on Tuesday handed a year ban from football-related activities to former African Football Confederation (CAF) president Issa Hayatou over a controversial $1 billion TV and marketing rights deal with France’s Lagardere Sports which infringed competition regulations.

Cameroon’s Hyatou, 74, must also pay a 30,000 Swiss francs (28,000 euros/$33,000) fine after the committee’s adjudicatory chamber found the former FIFA vice-president and interim president breached article 15 (Duty of Loyalty) of world football’s governing body’s ethics code.

The investigation into Mr Hayatou’s conduct in his position as CAF president had focused on his involvement in negotiating and signing off a memorandum of understanding and contractual agreement for the commercialisation of media and marketing rights of CAF-organised events with Lagardere between 2014 and 2017.

READ ALSO: Absent Kane Set For Spurs Return Amid Man City Transfer Talk – Reports

The committee found Hayatou had breached his duty of loyalty in his position as CAF president by entering on its behalf into an anti-competitive agreement with Lagardere which damaged the organisation financially as well as its reputation.

Qatari-based French-owned Lagardere Sports Agency, a CAF partner since 1993, was granted a $1 billion exclusive broadcasting rights deal to cover African football competitions from 2017 through to 2028 in a 2015 agreement signed with the CAF, leading to the opening of an investigation from 2017.

Hayatou ceased to be CAF president in March 2017 after losing an election to Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad.

He was made made CAF honorary president last January, also was FIFA interim president from October 2015 to February 2016 following the suspension of Sepp Blatter and prior to the election of Gianni Infantino.

AFP