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.
“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.
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.
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.
The prosecutor who was investigating FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been removed for public statements that were ‘biased’ against the head of world football’s governing body, a Swiss court announced on Wednesday.
Stefan Keller opened an inquiry into Infantino in July 2020 over three informal meetings with the former head of the Swiss public prosecutor’s office (MPC). In March he started investigating Infantino’s use of a private jet paid for by FIFA.
Keller had not yet started formal proceedings in either case.
The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona “admitted Gianni Infantino’s request for recusal against Stefan Keller” in a decision taken last Friday and published on its website on Wednesday.
The judgement centred on four press communications and a statement to a legal journal by Keller, which, the court said in its judgement, did not constitute “objective, neutral and correct information in the public interest”.
“It appeared obvious that there was not only the mere appearance of a possible bias, but that he was in fact biased towards the applicant,” said the decision.
In particular, Keller had noted in mid-December “indications” that the FIFA boss had been guilty of “unfair management” for using a private jet, funded by the body, to fly between Suriname and Switzerland in 2017.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is not in favour of sanctions against the 12 clubs that tried to launch a European Super League, preferring “dialogue” on football reform.
The plan to create a closed competition was “unacceptable” and “unimaginable”, the world football boss told French sports daily L’Equipe in an interview published on Wednesday.
“Certain actions should have consequences, and everyone must assume their responsibilities,” said Infantino, who has publically joined the opposition to the project.
“But you always have to be careful when you talk about sanctions.
“It’s said quickly that you have to punish. It’s even popular — or populist — sometimes.
“By punishing a club, for example, you are also punishing players, coaches and fans, who have nothing to do with it.”
He said that while sanctions should come “first and foremost” from national football bodies, followed by UEFA and finally FIFA, he said “I always prefer dialogue to conflict, even in the most delicate situations”.
He urged “listening to everyone” to understand “how we have come to this point”.
Infantino said there were many possible avenues to promote “economic stability” and “competitive balance” in football.
He said FIFA were working to reform of the transfer market and planned to reintroduce licenses for agents and wants to cap their commissions.
He also suggested “the introduction of salary ceilings, ceilings on transfer fees”, “a limit on the number of players per club, as well as the obligation to have a certain number of locally-trained players” and “minimum rest periods” between games.
Many of these proposals would face tricky legal hurdles or political opposition from inside the game.
With the rescheduled Euro 2020 and Copa America scheduled for immediately after the current season, Infantino also urged reform of the international calendar, calling for “fewer matches, but better quality”.
Without offering any details, Infantino promised “interesting discussions” on the recent proposals by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Chief of Global Football Development, who has advocated increasing the number of internationals by holding the World Cup and the Euros every two years.
Infantino also reaffirmed his intention to expand the Club World Cup to 24 teams, without offering a precise deadline, promising that this project, which is being contested by the continental confederations, would become “the best club event in the world”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Tuesday there is “no doubt whatsoever” that football’s world governing body “disapproves” of the proposed European Super League (ESL) and that clubs involved could face “consequences”.
Twelve major clubs launched plans Monday for a new breakaway league which would drastically change the landscape of the world’s most popular sport.
“At FIFA we can only and strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, of a Super League who is a closed shop, a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA,” Infantino told a UEFA congress in Switzerland.
“There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the six English clubs involved, together with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid from Spain and Italian trio Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
UEFA has said the teams would be banned from domestic and other European competitions, including the Champions League.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, the head of the new ESL, has insisted that would be “impossible”, but Infantino threatened action as FIFA took a stronger stance than it did with its initial statement when the news first broke.
“It is our task to protect the European sport model, so if some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choices,” said Infantino.
“They are responsible for their choices.
“Either you’re in or you’re out. You can’t be half in and half out. Think of it, this has to be absolutely, absolutely clear.”
President Gianni Infantino has arrived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the first stop on an itinerary that will see him visit FIFA member associations in several African countries along with heads of state and African Union (AU) Chairperson Félix Tshisekedi over the coming days.
Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya, and travelled to the Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou to officially inaugurate the venue which was featuring a new artificial turf pitch that received FIFA Forward support.
“We have enjoyed some impressive youth football in a modern and well-equipped stadium which is a very good and concrete example of how FIFA Forward funds are used to develop football all over the world, and particularly in Africa,” the FIFA President said following the inauguration, which was also attended by Taleb Ould Sid´Ahmed, the Mauritanian Minister of Employment, Youth and Sports.
“FIFA is very proud that the FIFA Forward programme was used to invest in the new Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou which and is an excellent setting for the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations. I compliment the FFRIM and its President Ahmed Yahya, and also CAF, on staging this competition especially given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The competition is a great platform to showcase the amazing young talent of African football, and I look forward to seeing who will take the U20 trophy.”
“This facility, both the stadium and the technical centre, are important facilities for the development of football in Mauritania, and I would like to thank FIFA for helping to make this project come to life through FIFA Forward,” FFRIM President Ahmed Yahya added.
Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou, along with Nouakchott’s Cheikh Boidiya Stadium and Stade Olympique, is currently hosting the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations, which runs from 14 February until 6 March 2021. In staging the event, CAF also benefitted from FIFA COVID-19 Relief Fund support with funding provided for the maintenance and running of stadiums, as well as training of referees and security officers for tournaments.
UEFA have asked FIFA president Gianni Infantino to change the handball rule to stop “growing frustration” following a spate of penalties awarded for the offence, European football’s governing body confirmed on Thursday.
In a letter to Infantino, UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin asked that football’s lawmakers adjust the handball rule — which has been in place since March last year — so that referees can once again judge whether there is intent when a player handles the ball.
“The attempt to strictly define the cases where handling the ball is an offence has resulted in many unfair decisions which have been met with growing frustration and discomfort by the football community,” said Ceferin’s letter, which was sent on October 27.
The contents of the letter were confirmed to AFP’s sister sports agency in Germany, SID.
The news of the letter comes a day after the latest controversial spot-kick award, which put Chelsea two goals ahead in their 3-0 Champions League win over Rennes on Wednesday.
Rennes defender Dalbert, who had already given away the first penalty which had put Chelsea ahead, was sent off for a second booking following a VAR review when a Tammy Abraham shot bounced off his foot onto his arm.
The decision, and Timo Werner’s cool finish from the spot, effectively killed off the Ligue 1 side’s chances of getting a result at Stamford Bridge in their first-ever season in the Champions League.
Rennes president Nicolas Holveck was livid after the defeat in London, calling referee Felix Zwayer “the man of the match”.
“I would like someone to clearly explain to me the rules for handballs in the box … the score went to 2-0 without Alfred (Gomis, the Rennes goalkeeper) having to make a save.”
It was one of many penalty decisions that have angered players and managers and Ceferin in his letter suggested was against the “spirit of the game”.
Ceferin wrote to Infantino as it is the FIFA-controlled International Football Association Board which decides on the game’s laws.
FIFA has half of the eight IFAB votes, with the others belonging to the FA’s of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has contracted coronavirus, the world’s governing body announced on Tuesday.
The 50-year-old has mild symptoms and will remain in isolation for a further 10 days.
“All people who came into contact with the FIFA President during the last few days have been informed accordingly and they are being requested to take the necessary steps,” the body said.
“FIFA sincerely wishes President Infantino a speedy recovery,” it added.
Infantino’s last public appearances was at FIFA’s Compliance Summit which ended on October 16 when all attendees were present via video.
Cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 in the body’s base, Switzerland, have doubled from one week to the next throughout October.
The country’s government is expected to decide Wednesday on new measures to control the spread of the virus.
The spread of the illness has cast doubt over Wednesday’s potential meeting between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Champions League after the Juventus attacker tested positive for the illness earlier this month.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Saturday called for discussions over proposals to introduce salary and transfer fee caps to football in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
World football’s governing body intends to finalise plans in the coming weeks for a financial relief package following the economic damage caused to the sport by the global health crisis.
FIFA announced in April it would release $150 million (133 million euros) to its 211 member associations “as the first step of a relief plan”. UEFA shortly afterwards said it had allocated 236.5 million euros to its 55 member federations.
Last month, the German FA and Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge urged industry talks about a salary cap and reforming the transfer system to keep football “credible”.
“On the financial and governance aspects, I also heard some interesting proposals on a wide range of topics,” Infantino wrote in an open letter to FIFA’s members.
“From salary caps to transfer fee caps or other taxation mechanisms, to the possible obligation for governing bodies, competition organisers and clubs to build reserves or to contribute to a reserve fund which can be of assistance in hours of need such as now.
“I personally advocate for clearer and stricter financial regulations, imposing full transparency and good governance principles, and not only limiting this to the transfer system, but to the entire football ecosystem.
“FIFA is doing already a lot of work on this area, even if we face some strong vested interests who fight against our plea for better global governance in our sport.”
A recent study by accounting firm KPMG said the transfer value of players in 10 of Europe’s top leagues could plummet by up to 10 billion euros due to the economic crash caused by a coronavirus.
‘Balanced’ international calendar
The French league declared over in late April, said it would have to take out a government-guaranteed loan of some 225 million euros to tide over clubs impacted by the loss in income from broadcasters.
Last season’s Champions League finalists Tottenham have received a £175 million loan from the Bank of England to help them through the crisis as the club predicted losses of £200 million over the next year.
Infantino is hoping to push through the rescue package by the time of the next FIFA Council meeting later this month.
“The need for top club football to resume has understandably taken priority, but we must also consider national teams, women’s football, lower-tier domestic leagues, youth and the grassroots game,” Infantino said.
“We have to show unity across all aspects of football and make sure football can resume in its globality. This is our priority and our financial relief plan will also follow this principle.”
While domestic leagues are gradually restarting, the international calendar has been decimated with Euro 2020 and the Copa America both postponed until next year.
However, Infantino said a reworked international schedule could be published shortly.
“On another very important topic, namely the international match calendar, I am happy to report that we also made some good progress,” he said.
“In consultation with different stakeholders, we are closer to present a balanced solution that takes into account everyone’s challenges and needs.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Tuesday proposed delaying next year’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup in China after UEFA postponed the European Championship until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
South America’s equivalent of the Euros, the Copa America, also scheduled for this June and July, has also been postponed by a year, ensuring European-based players will be free to finish the season with their clubs.
Moving the tournaments by a year puts them on a collision course with FIFA and its president Infantino, who had planned to stage the inaugural edition of his highly lucrative Club World Cup in June and July next year in China.
Infantino said in a statement he would hold a conference call with FIFA officials on Wednesday, during which he will suggest “to decide at a later stage — when there is more clarity on the situation — when to reschedule the new FIFA Club World Cup, later in 2021, in 2022 or in 2023.”
He also said FIFA will plan “to discuss with the Chinese FA and the Chinese Government the postponement of the new FIFA Club World Cup from 2021 in order to minimise any negative impact.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been proposed as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but World Athletics head Sebastian Coe will have to wait, IOC chief Thomas Bach announced on Thursday.
Bach said Infantino will be officially put forward as a candidate to be a member in January, when he will have to face a vote from the over 100 current members of the IOC.
Bach added Coe has not been proposed for the next session after worries over “the risk of conflict of interest”, adding the “door is still open” for the World Athletics head at the IOC session before next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Infantino’s predecessor Sepp Blatter, who departed from the organisation amid a corruption scandal that swept FIFA, was an IOC member but since succeeding him in 2015 Infantino has never been a member.
Bach also announced 30 athletes are candidates for four seats on the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, which will be decided during the Tokyo Games.
Among the contenders are high jump world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, Olympic gold-winning swimmer Federica Pellegrini, double Olympic triathlon gold winner Alistair Brownlee and Spanish basketball player Paul Gasol.
Racists must be “kicked out” of stadiums, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday, as he pressed for a worldwide ban on spectators who abuse black footballers.
Speaking days after England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria was twice stopped because of chants targeting English players, Infantino insisted the world body would punish racism.
“If there are racists that abuse footballers, we have to stop the game,” he told a press conference on a visit to Dhaka.
“We cannot let the racists win. The football has to continue and we have to punish the people,” Infantino said.
He added it was now easy to identify the culprits in modern stadiums with closed circuit TV and that a “strong message” must be sent.
“They have to be taken, kicked out of the stadium, they must not be allowed to enter into football stadiums any more, and criminal proceedings should be brought against them.
“It’s a crime and it should be a crime in all countries of the world to commit a racist abuse,” he said.
Infantino reaffirmed that if a country bans a spectator because of racism, “FIFA will extend it worldwide because racists have no place in football in any country and no place in any football stadium or arena in any part of the world.”
Six Bulgarians have been indicted for abuse at Monday’s Bulgaria-England game when monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes overshadowed England’s 6-0 win. Three more are being sought.
One 18-year-old was indicted on Wednesday for using Nazi salutes and four others have been fined and banned from sports events for two years.
Infantino had already condemned the incident in a statement on Tuesday, calling racism an “obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world”.
He said Thursday that on top of stadium action better education was needed.
“We have to educate our youth, our children and those who are a bit older as well,” he said.
Infantino also said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar “will be the very best World Cup ever” despite new controversy over the heat and empty stadiums after the world athletics championships in September saw some long distance races badly affected.
The FIFA boss insisted that it would be cooler as the football tournament would be in November and December.
“I am sure in Qatar we will witness from a technical point of view, the very best World Cup ever.” He also expressed confidence that the stadiums would be “full”.
“Football is the number one sport in the world. We will fill the stadiums in Qatar and anywhere else in the World easily with the World Cup.”