FIFA To Invest $1Billion In Women’s Football In The Next Four Years – Infantino

File photo of FIFA president Gianni Infantino. PHOTO: Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

FIFA will double its funding for women’s football to $1 billion over the next four years, president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday following a meeting of the world governing body’s council.

“The Council decided to put 500 million in addition to the 500 million already budgeted,” Infantino told reporters in Shanghai.

FIFA had earlier this week said it is hoping to renegotiate contracts already signed for the next women’s World Cup in 2023 as it looks to increase the amount of money going to players, sources have told AFP.

“FIFA plan to renegotiate contracts for the women’s World Cup in order to offer much greater bonuses to players,” a source said ahead of a FIFA Council meeting in Shanghai on Thursday.

Women’s football will feature heavily on the agenda at the meeting as world football’s governing body plans to increase the number of competing teams at the World Cup to 32, up from 24 at this year’s tournament in France.

Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already promised to double the prize fund for the next tournament having initially raised overall contributions from $15 million to $50 million in time for this year’s competition.

The money will come from the organisation’s vast cash reserves of more than $2.7 billion. “We don’t need all this money in the Swiss banks, they have enough money,” said Infantino in July.

In addition, FIFA are also exploring the possibility of creating a women’s World League — along the lines of UEFA’s Nations League — as well as a Club World Cup for women.

A decision on the creation of these tournaments will be made in March next year.

Thursday’s meeting will also see FIFA appoint a host for the 2021 men’s Club World Cup, which will feature 24 teams for the first time.

AFP

‘I Want To Sue Him’: Blatter To Target Infantino, FIFA

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during an interview with AFP on May 28, 2019 in Zurich./ AFP

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is running unopposed in his bid for a second term as the head of world football’s governing body, but that does not mean everyone approves of his job performance.

Least of all his predecessor, Sepp Blatter, who led FIFA from 1998 to 2015, when he was forced out in disgrace amid a global corruption scandal.

“I want to sue him,” Blatter said of Infantino, the man he blames for a host of offences — both personal and in his stewardship of FIFA, where Blatter worked for 41 years.

In an interview with AFP, Blatter accused Infantino and FIFA of failing to return personal items that he left in his old office and of unfairly implicating him in financial misconduct.

READ ALSO: EU To Demand Clarifications From Italy Over Budge

Blatter said he wants an admission that he has been “hurt” by FIFA.

“Both me and my family, my entire entourage, by saying that this guy was using (FIFA) like a piggy bank. This is a question of honour,” Blatter said.

Blatter, who like Infantino is a Swiss national, remains the target of a criminal investigation in Switzerland, but the case has not yet come to court after nearly four years of investigation.

Blatter particularly disputes allegations by FIFA that he received a 12 million Swiss franc ($12 million, 10.6 million euros) bonus following the 2014 World Cup.

He said his suit against FIFA and Infantino would be filed “before the end of the month.”

– ‘Curious’ meetings –
The Swiss case against Blatter has been clouded in recent weeks by the opening of a disciplinary investigation targeting the man leading the probe, the country’s attorney general Michael Lauber.

Lauber has reportedly met Infantino informally three times, which raised eyebrows because FIFA is directly implicated in the Swiss investigation.

The meetings between Lauber and Infantino were set up by Rinaldo Arnold, a prosector in the southern Swiss canton of Valais and a childhood friend of the current FIFA president.

Blatter said the relationship between Arnold and Infantino was “a major question mark.”

After Lauber’s first two meetings with Infantino came to light, he told an oversight body that there were no other meetings.

Then, weeks later, Swiss media reported a third meetings, which triggered the disciplinary probe.

“It’s a general amnesia in Switzerland,” Blatter said regarding the apparent lapses in the attorney general’s account, describing the entire ordeal as “curious.”

Turning to the governance of world football, Blatter accused Infantino of conducting himself with “a lack of transparency,” especially concerning plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams.

“This is what (Infantino) was preaching, to be the man of transparency. But it is not enough to look transparent,” Blatter said.

FIFA has confirmed the tournament will expand from 32 to 48 for the World Cup the North America World Cup in 2026, but a tentative plan to enlarge Qatar 22 has been scrapped.

Infantino Sole Candidate For FIFA Presidency In June Vote

n this file photo taken on January 17, 2019 FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives a press conference during the FIFA Executive Football Summit in the central Moroccan city of Marrakech.

 

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, is set to serve a second term after world football’s governing body said on Wednesday he would be the only candidate for June’s vote.

The 48-year-old has been in charge of FIFA since February 2016, after succeeding the disgraced Sepp Blatter following the corruption scandal which rocked the organisation.

The election will take place on June 5 in Paris ahead of the women’s World Cup.

Former Tottenham defender Ramon Vega had announced his intention to stand against Infantino but failed to garner the required support of five of FIFA’s 211 member federations.

READ ALSO: FIFA To Decide On 48-Team World Cup In March – Infantino

Infantino has introduced plans to increase the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 from 2026, with the possibility to bring forward the expansion to the 2022 edition in Qatar.

A decision is expected to be taken next March after a study into the feasibility of holding an extended tournament in the Gulf state.

Michel Platini’s former right-hand man at UEFA is also hoping for an enlarged, 24-team Club World Cup from 2021.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia, who will be re-elected on Thursday also as the sole candidate, is opposed to the idea.

Infantino Condemns ‘Idiots’ For Ruining Copa Libertadores Party

FIFA president Gianni Infantino/ AFP

 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino lamented that “idiots ruined the party” for everyone after the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final was moved to Madrid following fan violence.

The match between Buenos Aires arch-rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate was originally scheduled for November 24 at River’s Monumental stadium but was postponed after Boca players were injured when their team bus was attacked by home fans throwing projectiles.

“I was here last Saturday,” Infantino said at a  press conference at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. “It was a sad moment for everyone. It is a football match. It is not a war, not even a battle.”

“We have to work to find out who are the people to blame. You have to identify them and get them out (of football),” said Infantino.

“I hope this does not happen any longer,” he said. “This story must mark the end of one chapter and the start of a new one.”

South American football’s governing body Conmebol on Thursday confirmed that the match would be played on December 9 at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

“All the leaders of G20 are interested in football and they see the potential of football,” Infantino said. “Football is the only truly global sport.”

Infantino Backtracks On Expanded World Cup In Qatar

FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks during the inauguration of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) new headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on October 30, 2018. Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino all but wrote off the chances of an expanded 48-team competition at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday.

Last month Infantino told the Asian Football Confederation’s annual congress in Kuala Lumpur that increasing the number of teams from the 32 that made up the tournament in Russia this year was “feasible”.

However, he appeared to backtrack on that during an interview with AFP and other media in Zurich.

“I haven’t changed my mind,” said Infantino.

“I was positive about it from the beginning because I think if we can increase the number of teams it is good for football. That is why we are going to do it for the 2026 World Cup.

“Can we do it for 2022? It is a difficult challenge.”

Accommodating another 16 teams would vastly complicate Qatar’s task in preparing for the World Cup, which was awarded to the tiny desert state in 2010.

“We are in discussion with Qatar,” said Infantino, who said the tournament would need to spread to neighbouring countries.

“It will be a very, very difficult challenge to do it only in Qatar.

“So personally, as president of FIFA, I would be very happy if some matches could be shared with some countries in the region.”

The question of regional cooperation has been complicated by Qatar’s stand-off with neighbours Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, who have cut off diplomatic relations and imposed a blockade on the resource-rich country, accusing it of endorsing terror activities.

“In the light of current circumstances in the region I would be even happier if it could happen,” he said.

“Football unites, builds bridges, that could be a concrete result.

“What are the chances? Certainly small but what is wrong in discussing it?” said Infantino.

A final decision will be made in March at the next FIFA Council in Miami before the draws for qualifying are made.

AFP

UEFA, PSG, Man City Targeted In Football Leaks’ Revelations

UEFA helped Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City get around their own Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, according to a Football Leaks investigation published on Friday.

According to the investigation of “more than 70 million documents” analysed “over eight months by 80 journalists” from members of European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), UEFA “knowingly helped the clubs to cover up their own irregularities for ‘political reasons'”.

Both clubs, owned and bankrolled by wealth from Qatar and Abu Dhabi respectively, have avoided the most severe Financial Fair Play punishment of being excluded from the UEFA Champions League.

That is despite using “forbidden money” to inflate their budgets, according to the investigation.

Football Leaks claims Qatar and Abu Dhabi combined “have injected some 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in the last seven years” to increase the budgets of the clubs they own. Of that figure, 2.7 billion euros has been into City, via their Abu-Dhabi owners and from allegedly “overestimated” sponsorship deals.

READ ALSO: Football Leaks Shines Light On Infantino’s Relationship With Swiss Prosecutor

UEFA rules state that clubs cannot spend more than they earn in any given season and deficits must fall within a 30-million-euro limit over three seasons.

Both PSG and City were fined 60 million euros by UEFA in May 2014, but both were told they would get 40 million euros of that back if they stuck to the terms of their settlement.

French investigative website Mediapart claims Gianni Infantino — the current FIFA president who was then UEFA’s general secretary — “directly negotiated an agreement with Manchester City”, bypassing the Financial Control Panel of European football’s governing body.

Included in copy in emails sent by Infantino to City’s chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president and a PSG fan but who also reportedly helped City’s Abu-Dhabi owners in their attempts to get around FFP rules.

Asked for a reaction by Mediapart, City said “the attempt to damage the reputation of the club is organised and clear.”

PSG said in a statement that it has “always complied strictly with the laws and regulations in force and strongly denies the allegations published today by Mediapart”.

Meanwhile, Platini said that his FFP rules were not set up “to kill or strangle clubs financially” even if he always wanted punishments to be handed out.

PSG have been the subject of another UEFA investigation ever since coming under pressure from some of Europe’s footballing elite when the French champions signed Neymar from Barcelona for a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million) in August 2017.

In late September UEFA said it had referred the accusations against the Paris club to its financial unit “for further investigation”. PSG’s case, though, is complicated by lucrative sponsorship deals with the Qatar National Bank and the Gulf state’s tourism authority.

The Football Leaks investigation points the finger at PSG’s five-year agreement with the Qatar Tourism Authority, valued at 1.075 billion euros, or 215 million euros a year.

That is despite the investigation claiming that “two independent auditors (Repucom and Octagon) assigned by UEFA valued the contract at…123,000 euros per year for one, and 2.8 million euros a year for the other”.

AFP

Football Leaks Shines Light On Infantino’s Relationship With Swiss Prosecutor

FIFA President Gianni Infantino.                                                                       Photo: Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s “suspicious friendship” with Swiss prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold was brought to light in Football Leaks revelations published on Friday by a consortium of European media, including the French investigative website Mediapart.

According to European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), “invitations” were given to the chief prosecutor of the Haut-Valais region of Switzerland for the match between the Swiss and Costa Rica at this year’s World Cup as well as the FIFA Congress in Mexico in May 2016 and the Champions League final in Milan the same month.

“Thanks very much for the tickets for the Champions League final. My youngest son will go with my wife,” Arnold wrote to Infantino in an email in May 2016.

Questioned by the EIC, FIFA responded that the organisation’s rules allow “the president and general secretary to invite a certain number of guests to tournaments and FIFA events”.

The EIC claims that Arnold would provide Infantino with details of ongoing investigations by Swiss prosecutors, including in the wake of the Panama Papers leak in 2016, when UEFA was investigated for signing a television deal with an offshore company.

Cristiano Ronaldo reached an agreement with Spanish authorities to pay 16.7 million euros ($19 million) to settle a tax fraud claim that followed a previous Football Leaks investigation in 2016.

AFP

FIFA Chief Heading For Trouble Over Pet Projects

In this file photo taken on March 18, 2016, FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives a press conference following an executive meeting of the world football governing body at its headquarters in Zurich. Infantino will attend the FIFA council opening in Kigali on October 26, 2018.
MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP

 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is set to ignite new opposition on Friday over his ambition to introduce two money-spinning pet projects — a revamped global club cup and a bold new international championship.

Infantino’s Saudi-backed plans, which have already been harshly criticized, are on the agenda of Friday’s meeting of FIFA’s ruling council.

It is unclear whether the council’s 37 members will vote on the projects, giving world football’s governing body authorization to implement them.

But opponents are already sharpening the knives, deploring the proposed introduction of new competitions in an overcrowded football calendar while also targetting Infantino himself, accused of seeking to win votes ahead of his re-election bid in June next year.

The World Leagues Forum, which groups professional football leagues, has expressed its strong opposition to the proposed Club World Cup format and the Global Nations League in the past.

This week the influential body addressed a letter to Infantino signed by English FA chief Richard Scudamore and his Bundesliga counterpart Christian Seifert among others demanding that no decision be taken in Kigali. It also lamented the lack of any consultation between FIFA and the leagues.

Forum members apparently accuse Infantino of going behind their backs directly to a few top clubs to discuss the plans for the club competition while the European Clubs Association issued an appeal to FIFA several months ago, apparently unheeded, for talks.

UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin has complained of FIFA’s “strange” behavior while UEFA, speaking via the powerful Professional Football Strategic Council (PFSC), issued a statement expressing concern about the whole process.

It said the PFSC “unanimously expressed serious reservations about the process surrounding the FIFAClub World Cup and Global Nations League proposals and in particular the hasty timing and lack of concrete information”.

walkout? 

The 17-member PFSC is led by Ceferin and includes Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of Paris Saint-Germain, and Ed Woodward, vice-chairman of Manchester United, two clubs who attended a meeting at which Infantino presented his plans to Europe’s biggest clubs.

An ill feeling has reached a point where UEFA delegates may even stage a walkout if their views go unheeded at Friday’s Council meeting, according to the New York Times this week.

Infantino is pushing to revamp the Club World Cup, boosting it from seven clubs to 24 in a four-year format, 12 of them European. Currently, the competition which elicits little interest outside of Latin America is played every year.

His other project is to launch a biennial league tournament for nations, the Global Nations League, a sort of mini-World Cup with eight national teams competing.

Infantino says he has an offer of $25 billion over 12 years for the two competitions from a group of investors, which the Financial Times has identified as SoftBank from Japan, backed by Saudi Arabia among others.

That money, he promises, will be redistributed to clubs and continental football federations.

Football historian Paul Dietschy told AFP the new club competition was clearly an attempt to pull the rug from under UEFA’s highly lucrative Champions League.

“The Champions League will survive,” he said, but FIFA” will snatch away some of its income.”

AFP

Infantino Has ‘Support Of Africa’ In FIFA Re-Election Bid

FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends the 12th CAF Extraordinary General Assembly meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh on September 30, 2018. MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP

 

African nations would support Gianni Infantino for re-election as FIFA president, the head of the continental football federation Ahmad Ahmad said on Sunday.

“I feel it is my duty… to announce this support from Africa,” Ahmad said at a special meeting of the Confederation of African Football Executive Committee, which Infantino attended, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Infantino, a former deputy head of UEFA, was first elected in 2016 to succeed Sepp Blatter when the scandal that engulfed the governing body of world football was at its height.

The next presidential election will be held in Paris in June 2019 and Infantino has said he will stand.

Infantino expressed his gratitude for the African backing.

“It means a lot to me,” said the Swiss. “Since long before my election, I had said, and since I have done everything, to make sure that the future really is Africa.”

Infantino is believed to have supported Ahmad when he ousted the long-time CAF president Issa Hayatou in March 2017.

Infantino described the election as a “vote of change”.

“It’s about taking football forward, it’s about making progress together,” Infantino told CAF delegates, calling for “a real impact.”

According to reports, Infantino was investigated by the FIFA ethics committee for interfering in the CAF election when he removed leading members of the committee. He later sacked the chairman and members of the ethics committee, effectively ending the probe.

Ahmad said that despite the failure of African nations during the World Cup in Russia, where none of the five African nations made it to the last 16, the continent needed “regular and increased” participation.

“Deep analysis” makes it possible to “see more clearly the various problems that undermine African football,” he said.

Ahmad said that participation (in the World Cup) “stabilises some of the national teams of our continent… and gives them experience.”

AFP

Infantino Says FIFA Was ‘Clinically Dead’ When He Took Over

Infantino Insists Russia Is Ready To Host World Cup
President of FIFA Gianni Infantino                                                                      PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said Wednesday that world football’s governing body was “clinically dead” when he took over following a corruption scandal that engulfed his predecessor Sepp Blatter.

Two years later, it was “very much alive” and full of “joy”, with a clear vision for its future, he said in his opening address to the FIFA Congress in Moscow on the eve of the opening match of the 2018 World Cup.

Blatter is being investigated by Swiss prosecutors for alleged corruption during his 17-year reign at the head of FIFA.

Elections that handed the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 have since been the target of allegations of bribery and spelled the end for Blatter.

Infantino has put FIFA on a sound financial footing and ushered in the introduction of innovations such as the Video Assistant Referee system to analyse controversial on-pitch incidents during matches.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who gave a short speech to the FIFA Congress, praised Blatter’s successor.

“We know that Infantino became the head of FIFA in difficult times but he has steered it well, like a true fighter,” Putin said.

Infantino, the former secretary general of football’s European governing body UEFA, was little known before he took over sport’s richest governing body.

The United States, Mexico and Canada, the three nations bidding to host the 2026 World Cup, helped gather support for his election.

It is thought Infantino will return the compliment by backing the bid, which faces competition from Morocco, in a vote of FIFA member nations later Wednesday.

The choice of the 2026 host nation will be made by up to 207 nations after the rules were changed to widen the voting college following the controversial ballots.

Russia and Qatar were picked by the 24-member FIFA Executive Committee, several members of which have been convicted on corruption charges.

AFP

FIFA To Hold Annual Awards In London

Infantino Insists Russia Is Ready To Host World Cup
FIFA’s President, Gianni Infantino                                                                        PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

FIFA’s “Best” awards, which recognise football’s best men’s and women’s players and coaches, will be staged in London on 24 September, world football’s governing body said on Thursday.

The ceremony was also held in London last year, when Real Madrid’s Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo collected the award for male player for the second straight year and his then club manager, Zinedine Zidane, was named the best coach.

Dutchwomen Lieke Martens and Sarina Wiegman were named best woman player and best women’s coach.

Ten candidates for each of those four awards will be named on July 23, eight days after the end of World Cup in Russia. With the help of fan voting, they will be winnowed down to three candidates in each category.

FIFA will also hand out awards for best goalkeeper, for fair play and for the best fans as well as the Puskas award for the goal of the year and will  name a World 11.

AFP

UEFA Prepares To Fight Infantino’s Club World Cup Plan

FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino                                                                         JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

A united response to FIFA’s plans to enlarge the Club World Cup to 24 teams will be the subject of debate on Wednesday at a meeting of football power brokers organised by UEFA.

Ahead of the Europa League final in Lyon, the governing body of European football is holding a meeting of its “Council of UEFA” and FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s plans are the main topic on the agenda.

Many of those participating have already expressed hostility to the plan.

The council, chaired by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, brings together the European Club Association (ECA), the recently renamed European Leagues (EPFL) and the players’ union (FifPro).

Infantino is pushing to revamp the Club World Cup, boosting it from seven clubs to 24 in a four-year format. At the moment it is played every year.

At the same time, he hopes to launch a biennial league tournament for nations, the Global Nations League.

Infantino says he has an offer of $25 billion over 12 years for the two competitions from a group of investors, which the Financial Times has identified as SoftBank from Japan and the governments of China and Saudi Arabia.

That is allowing FIFA to dangle enormous amounts of cash in front of the biggest clubs.

For the club competition alone the consortium “guarantees minimum revenues of $12 billion for the four editions from 2021 to 2033”, according to a document, which AFP has read, that FIFA presented to seven big European clubs including European Champions Real Madrid, Spanish champions Barcelona and German champions Bayern Munich.

According to the document, 12 of the 24 teams in the competition would be European, four or five from South America, two each from the rest of the Americas, Asia and Africa, leaving the Oceania to battle for the last place with a South American team.

The winners of the four previous Champions Leagues would be guaranteed places.

The European participants could make between $50 million  and $80 million each.

Already some clubs have voiced their support.

Barcelona’s board of directors said the tournament would be  “exciting, dynamic, inclusive and prestigious.”

They added that it would “create a global platform for clubs to contribute to the growth of their brands.”

Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid’s head of public relations, told his club’s TV station: “We think that for fans it could be a very interesting competition.”

 60-day deadline 

Infantino says he needs agreement soon because the consortium gave FIFA a 60-day deadline and after that the money will vanish and hopes to get approval at the FIFA conference in Moscow in June ahead of the World Cup.

Ceferin is not happy.

“FIFA should not be meeting with only seven federations or clubs and discussing with them things that concern all of European football,” he said in a recent interview.

“I know that at least three of the seven clubs don’t agree with the path that FIFA wants to take.”

“They have invited only the clubs,” the Slovene said on Friday. “So they think only they count.”

Infantino insists that the new format will reduce the number of games the “great players” would play in each four-year cycle, but the leagues are sceptical and object to cramming new competitions into the football calendars.

“FIFA itself has highlighted the international match calendar’s congestion and lack of rest periods for players most in demand,” Premier League chief executive Richard Scumadore told

“To be presented with FIFA’s ‘solution’ as a fait accompli and claim this to be consultation defies all definitions of best practice and good governance,” Scudamore told The Times in London.

AFP