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.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was “disappointed” after attending a historic but bizarre World Cup qualifier between North and South Korea that had empty stands and no live broadcast.
The match in the North Korean capital ended 0-0 on Tuesday, with Infantino one of the few people allowed to see the gameplay out at Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Stadium.
“I was looking forward to seeing a full stadium for such a historic match but was disappointed to see there were no fans in the stands,” he said in an interview published on the FIFA website.
“We were surprised by this and by several issues related to its live broadcast and problems with visas and access for foreign journalists.”
No foreign media were at the game — the first competitive men’s match to be played in Pyongyang between the two sides, whose countries are still technically at war.
Frustrated South Korean fans who were not permitted to travel to the game will have to wait days to see it on television after officials bring back a DVD recording.
“For us, freedom of the press and freedom of speech are obviously paramount, but on the other hand it would be naive to think we can change the world from one minute to the next,” Infantino said.
The match comes in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests that raised tensions in the region, and after the breakdown of talks with the US over Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.
It is a far cry from the cross-border warmth of last year when South Korean President Moon Jae-in seized on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to broker the Pyongyang-Washington discussion process.
The only simple way to follow the match, which the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had billed as “one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures” for years, was a limited online text commentary posted on the FIFA and AFC websites.
Meanwhile, North Korean state media did not offer much in the way of colourful description in its report on the match.
“The game of attacks and counterattacks ended in a draw,” summarised the official Korean Central News Agency in a two-line dispatch.
Infantino said he and his team had raised questions of free press and speech with North Korea’s football association.
“We will certainly keep pushing so that football can have a positive influence in (North) Korea… and other countries around the world,” he said.
FIFA Boss Gianni Infantino has met U.S. with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss preparations for the 2026 World Cup as well as bringing equality to the women’s game.
At the meeting, President Trump joked with Infantino about possibly extending his term in office so he could preside over the 2026 games.
The meeting comes months after the U.S. women’s squad won the world cup in July amid calls for pay parity with the men’s side and improvement of conditions on a number of fronts including travel conditions and promotion.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino hailed France 2019 as “the best women’s World Cup ever” on Friday as he set out radical plans for the future of the women’s game, including expanding the tournament to 32 teams in 2023.
Speaking at a press conference in Lyon, where the World Cup concludes on Sunday as holders the United States and the Netherlands meet in the final, Infantino said the tournament had been “phenomenal” and “incredible”.
“There was a before and there will be an after the World Cup but it is up to us to seize the opportunity and do something about it,” added Infantino, who last month was re-elected for a second four-year term.
Rolling out a series of proposals for the development of the women’s game, Infantino said he would try to expand the competition in time for the next tournament in four years.
“I think we should increase the number of participants from 24 to 32,” he said.
“The tricky thing is that we have a World Cup for which we just started a bidding process based on 24 teams, so there we need to act more quickly and discuss it as a matter of urgency, in which case we should reopen the bidding process.”
Gianni Infantino was re-elected Wednesday by acclamation for a second term as FIFA president at the Congress of world football’s governing body in Paris.
The 49 year-old, who took charge of FIFA in February 2016 after the departure of the disgraced Sepp Blatter, stood unopposed for a new four-year term which will run until 2023.
Earlier, Infantino had insisted that FIFA had been transformed into an organisation “synonymous with credibility” as he addressed representatives of the 211 member federations, before the Women’s World Cup begins in the French capital on Friday.
“Today nobody talks about crises, nobody talks about rebuilding FIFA from scratch, nobody talks about scandals, nobody talks about corruption, we talk about football,” insisted the Swiss-Italian lawyer, formerly secretary general of UEFA.
“The very least we can say is that we have turned the situation around.
“In three years and four months, this organisation went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be, an organisation that develops football, an organisation that cares about football.”
“We came to conclusion; yes it’s feasible to move from 32 to 48 teams at the World Cup provided certain conditions are met.
“Since we decided in January 2017 that we should increase teams in 2026, and following a request from the 10 South American associations whether it is feasible to do this for 2022.
“We have the duty to look into it, 90 percent are in favour of an increase but it’s not as easy as that. We have to analyse matters carefully and we are working closely with Qatar.”
The move away from the traditional 32 teams which will see 80 matches instead of 64 — the notion was originally slated to come into effect for the 2026 tournament in North America — means one or more other countries will be asked to help Qatar stage the shortened 28-day event which is scheduled to kick off in November 2022.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates are all potential options yet rancorous diplomatic disputes has led to the tiny Gulf state being politically isolated from many of its former allies.
‘More the merrier’
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will need to end their diplomatic blockade of Qatar launched in 2017 if they want to be involved, FIFA’s feasibility study said.
“We know the situation in the Gulf region,” added Infantino. “We are in the lucky position of being in football, and that means you can only care about football. I was pleased with the reaction of the Qataris. We don’t want to regret not analysing the decision.”
For the 2026 tournament in North America, 60 games will be held in the United States with Canada and Mexico getting 10 games each.
A similar division is anticipated for 2022, with Qatar retaining the bulk of the matches while Infantino moved to allay fears the increase in teams could dilute the quality of the tournament.
“The more the merrier,” the FIFA supremo said.
A FIFA document on Thursday said an expanded 2022 tournament would use the same format planned for 2026, with the six regional confederations receiving the same number of qualifying slots allocated for the tournament in North America.
FIFA, meanwhile, have been told that the leading European clubs will boycott a Club World Cup expanded to 24 teams in 2021 which was also given the go-ahead at the meeting in Florida.
A 17-page report distributed to the 37 members of FIFA’s ruling body calls for the new tournament to take place between June 17 and July 4 2021, replacing the Confederations Cup international tournament.
Infantino called the decision to move ahead with the plans an “important milestone for world football” and expects no problems moving forward.
“We should enjoy what is coming,” he said.
But the European Club Association (ECA) said leading European clubs would boycott the event.
An ECA spokesman told AFP: “ECA clubs will not participate in the Club World Cup in 2021 and will assess participation in the Club World Cup in 2024.”
There was also confirmation from FIFA that the video assistant referee system (VAR) will be used at the women’s World Cup this summer.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has warned Qatar that the first World Cup in the Middle East – which begins in four years on November 21 – has to be better than Russia.
“The Russian World Cup was the best ever, and the World Cup in 2022 has to be even better,” said Infantino in a joint statement issued with Qatar’s tournament organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
The statement reveals that Qatar is spending $6.5 billion on building or refurbishing eight stadiums for the tournament.
Qatar has said it is spending around $500 million a week on preparations for the World Cup.
The Gulf state is set to host the first tournament in November and December, after FIFA agreed to move the tournament amid concerns over the desert country’s fierce summer heat, where temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).
“It will be a momentous occasion for the teams participating, the fans watching, and for the whole Arab world, which is eagerly anticipating hosting the showpiece event of the most popular sport in the world for the first time ever,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, head of the Supreme Committee.
FIFA has floated the idea of 48 teams at the 2022 World Cup but is likely to be contested by 32 sides only.
FIFA are opposed to La Liga’s plans to stage the match between Barcelona and Girona later this season in the United States, Gianni Infantino confirmed on Friday.
“Following a request of guidance from the Spanish FA, US Soccer and CONCACAF…the council emphasised the sporting principle that official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association,” said the president of world football’s governing body at a press conference.
“The council has very clear views on that,” added Infantino, who was speaking at the end of a FIFA council meeting in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
His remarks will not go down well with La Liga chief Javier Tebas, who has shown a determination to go ahead with the plans to play the match, scheduled for January 26, in Miami.
FIFA’s statutes suggest that they are able to block La Liga’s plans — article 71 says the governing body “may take the final decision on the authorisation of any international match or competition.”
Tebas said this week that opposition to the plans — which are supported by the two clubs involved — is “cultural”.
Real Madrid have voiced their unhappiness at the ideas, and the country’s players’ association and football federation have both rejected the proposal.
Spain has played its season-opening Super Cup outside the country, with Barcelona beating Sevilla in the Moroccan city of Tangiers in August. However, the idea of taking the league — and especially title contenders in Barcelona — abroad is far more contentious.
“Nigeria Football Association has a president, his name is Pinnick,” said Infantino. “We have been already clear about that some time ago.”
“I heard the issue came up again, but the situation is very clear; we have statutes, we have regulations. There can be no interference in the running of the association and for this reason, Pinnick is working here in an official capacity,” he added.
The FIFA president noted that Pinnick was duly elected as NFF President in accordance with the rules of the global body.
He insisted that it is not for any other body to intervene in the matter and warned the Nigerian government that continued interference might lead to sanctions.
“For FIFA, he (Pinnick) is the president elected by the members of the Nigeria football association and that’s the end of the story,” Infantino affirmed.
“If any external body thinks that they can change the situation, then Nigeria would risk being banned like it happened in other countries because we have democratic processes and they just need to be respected.”
Back in the country, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, said the Federal Government has played no role in any of the cases.
He told reporters in Delta State that the crisis has lingered for more than 15 years and urged parties involved in the NFF leadership tussle to settle their issues internally.
Authentic NFF President?
Mr Pinnick has been involved in a serious legal tussle since he assumed office as the NFF President in 2014.
Giwa and some other persons had approached the Federal High Court, Jos, on September 19, 2014, arguing that the Pinnick-led executive was not the authentic NFF executive elected on August 26, 2014.
Following a number of court cases, the Supreme Court set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Jos, Plateau State, on the discontinuation of the case on the leadership tussle in the football body.
The appeal court later held in 2016 that the case could no longer be relisted before the Federal High Court, having been earlier withdrawn by the appellants.
But a five-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, unanimously set aside the judgment of the appellate court in late April 2018 and sent the case back to the Federal High Court where the trial started in 2014.
June 5, 2018, Justice M. H. Kurya of the Federal High Court, Jos, held that the NFF election conducted on August 26, 2014, under the leadership of Chris Giwa be given recognition pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in the case.
He also ruled that the purported ban of the Executive Committee elected on August 26, 2014, from football activities of the NFF was unconstitutional, null and void.
Referring to the ruling in a statement on July 2, the sports minister asked Pinnick to respect the order of the court and step aside as NFF President.
Dalung had attributed the directive to a written notification from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, requesting him to ensure compliance with the court rulings on the matter.
Hours later, Giwa, who has since insisted that he is the duly elected president of the NFF, arrived at the NFF headquarters amid heavy security operatives to take control of the body.
With FIFA’s intervention, the football community hopes the government would support Pinnick as the authentic NFF President or risk a ban on Nigeria as threatened by Infantino.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino celebrated what he described as the “best World Cup” ever on Friday, thanks to the quality of football and organisation in Russia.
“I was saying this would be the best World Cup ever, today I can say it with more conviction… it is the best World Cup,” Infantino told reporters in Moscow two days ahead of the final between France and Croatia.
Infantino told Russian president Vladimir Putin in a meeting at the Kremlin last week that the world “fell in love with Russia,” over the past four weeks.
And Infantino said preconceived notions of the country had been changed by the positive experiences of more than one million fans who had visited.
“A lot of preconceived ideas have changed thanks to this World Cup,” said Infantino.
“Everyone has discovered a beautiful country, a welcoming country, full of people keen to show to the world what maybe sometimes is said is not what happens here.”