World Cup Will Be Health ‘Benchmark’ For Global Sporting Events, Says Infantino

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 11, 2021, FIFA chief Gianni Infantino takes off a mask during an interview in the Qatari capital Doha ahead of the Club World Cup final amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Karim JAAFAR / AFP)

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Thursday this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar will become a “benchmark” for holding future global sporting events during a health crisis.

The Qatari organisers of the 32 nation event that starts November 21 and runs till December 18 said they are “cautiously optimistic” it will be the first mass gathering of sports fans for a global sports event since the coronavirus pandemic erupted two years ago.

Spectators have largely been forbidden from attending last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics — save for a few events outside the Japanese capital — and the ongoing Winter Olympics in China.

FIFA announced this week that requests have been made for 17 million tickets for the first World Cup in the Arab region and sought to reassure fans about safety measures during an online health conference organised by the Qatar authorities.

Football has a duty “to make sure this not only the best World Cup ever but also the healthiest World Cup ever,” Infantino said in a recorded statement for the event.

He added that the health and security standards will be “a benchmark for future sporting events of this scale.”

The same message was given by World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who highlighted the “unique challenges” faced by organisers because of the pandemic.

WHO has been working with the Qatar government on health security, infectious diseases, food safety, co-ordination and communication during the World Cup.

“The lessons learned from Qatar’s experience in this World Cup will help us all in designing health and safety measures for other large scale events,” Tedros added.

Neither FIFA nor the Qatar organisers, who have spent billions of dollars preparing for the event, have said what would happen if a new coronavirus wave threatens the event.

But Hassan Al Thawadi, director general of the government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said: “While the pandemic is still very much here with us, we can now see real light at the end of the tunnel.

“In our eyes, the pandemic has given Qatar 2022 a new significance. Our World Cup may well be the first time that the world can properly come together to celebrate its passion for football.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we may be the country that hosts the first true gathering of global fans since the start of the crisis,” added Thawadi.

Biennial World Cup Can ‘Give Hope’ To Potential Migrants, Says Infantino 

In 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 / ANFP / CARLOS PARRA

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino seemed to establish a link on Wednesday between his plan for a World Cup every two years and the tragedy of migrants in the Mediterranean who must be “given hope”, before saying his remarks had been “misinterpreted”.

The head of world football told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg that the sport is currently going “in a direction where a few have everything and the vast majority have nothing”.

“I understand in Europe the World Cup takes place twice per week because the best players are playing in Europe,” said Infantino.

“But if we think about the rest of the world… which doesn’t see the best players, which doesn’t participate in the top competitions, then we have to think about what football brings, which goes beyond the sport.”

READ ALSO: Japan Can Overcome Injuries In World Cup Qualifiers, Says Minamino

The idea of a World Cup every two years, rather than every four as it has been since 1930, has faced a hostile reception from the European and South American federations as well as the big clubs. But it enjoys the unanimous support among the 54 African federations.

“We need to include them, we need to find ways to include the entire world, to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life, but more probably death in the sea.

“We need to give opportunities, and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity but by allowing the rest of the world as well to participate.”

His comments were swiftly criticised on social media.

“My colleagues at Human Rights Watch interview refugees around the world pretty much every day. We write reports about the reasons — the abuses, the hardships — that forced them to leave their homes. They never mention the timing of World Cup tournaments,” tweeted Andrew Stroehlein, media director at HRW.

Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, was equally dismissive.

“How low can Infantino go? Instrumentalising death in the Mediterranean to sell his megalomaniac plan is beyond words,” he tweeted.

That gave rise to a clarification by Infantino in a statement sent to AFP.

“Given that certain remarks made by me before the Council of Europe earlier today appear to have been misinterpreted and taken out of context, I wish to clarify that… my more general message was that everyone in a decision-making position has a responsibility to help improve the situation of people around the world,” said Infantino.

“If there are more opportunities available, including in Africa, but certainly not limited to that continent, this should allow people to take these opportunities in their own countries.

“This was a general comment, which was not directly related to the possibility of playing a World Cup every two years.”

AFP

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.”

There Are ‘Indications’ That FIFA Boss Infantino Is Guilty Of ‘Unfair Management’ -Swiss Prosecutor

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.

 

A Swiss prosecutor said Thursday that there were “indications” FIFA president Gianni Infantino was guilty of “unfair management” for using a private jet, funded by the body, to fly between Suriname and Switzerland in 2017.

Special prosecutor Stefan Keller called for a criminal investigation to be opened.

This latest accusation comes after a procedure was opened on July 30 against Infantino for “incitement to abuse authority”, the “violation of official secrecy” and “obstruction of criminal proceedings”.

“On the basis of the investigations carried out, (prosecutor) Stefan Keller is of the opinion that a criminal investigation must be opened for unfair management,” said a statement from his office.

Keller is, however, “not competent to open such an investigation” and therefore transmitted his conclusions to the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC).

Keller was appointed “extraordinary prosecutor” in early July to investigate suspicions of collusion between FIFA and former MPC chief Michael Lauber.

His investigations related to three secret meetings held in 2016 and 2017 between Lauber and Infantino.

Lauber resigned in the summer while FIFA’s internal justice system cleared Infantino in mid-August.

READ ALSO: Atalanta Beat Ajax To Reach Champions League Last 16

The FIFA chief said it was “absurd” to be implicated for having met a magistrate, insisting he wanted to show Lauber how much FIFA had changed since the clouds of corruption which had engulfed his predecessor Sepp Blatter.

FIFA said Thursday that they and Infantino were shocked by Keller’s statement, claiming it was “both malicious and defamatory in nature and demonstrates his extreme bias”.

“Neither FIFA nor its president have ever been informed of these new spurious allegations and they are therefore unable to comment on them, which is probably the intention of the ‘special prosecutor’.

“The method of Stefan Keller to accuse and defame by publishing media releases without justification borders on character assassination and is rejected in the strongest possible terms by FIFA and its president.

“FIFA and its president will obviously take all necessary legal steps and remedies to put an end to these baseless and ill-intentioned accusations.”

AFP

NFF Confirms Receipt Of $1m FIFA COVID-19 Palliatives

A photo combination of NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and FIFA President, Infantino.

 

President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick on Wednesday confirmed the receipt of $1 million as COVID-19 palliatives from FIFA. 

“Huge appreciation to football’s world governing body, @FIFAcom, for the $1 million (one million dollars) the Federation has received in the frame of COVID-19 palliatives,” Pinnick began in a series of tweets on his handle. “The money was received by the @thenff and we re-confirmed the purpose from FIFA two days ago.”

While noting that the fund is composed of $500,000 for “men’s football and $500,000 for the women’s game,” he said FIFA will equally send another “$500,000 sometime in January 2021” as part of the palliatives.

The world football governing body equally sent in $600,000 for the FIFA Forward 2.0 projects in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State and Ugborodo in Delta State.

“At $300,000 each, it will enable the mini-stadia in both centers to start at a very good pace, as we earmark completion by the end of March 2021,” the Federation leader added.

CAF Appoints Pinnick As President of AFCON, Media Committee
File photo: L-R: Fifa President, Infantino; NFF President, Pinnick andCAF President, Ahmad Ahmad.

 

He also said the NFF is expecting $300,000 from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) before November 1st, 2020.

According to him, “With the $200,000 we have already ring-fenced from our sponsors’ funds for the purpose, the coast will then be clear for us to start the disbursement of funds to the beneficiaries, as captured in our approved template, from next week.”

Even though the former Chairman of the Delta State Football Association acknowledged that the funds will be used in line with guidelines from FIFA, he said the NFF will work with its auditing firm to ensure the disbursements follow the best global practices.

“Beneficiaries MUST ensure 100% compliance to guidelines by ensuring that all funds are paid into designated accounts,” the Delta-born Pinnick stated.

“I would also like to thank all beneficiaries for their patience and understanding at these trying times. Finally, I would like to wish @FIFAcom President, Gianni Infantino God’s speed as he recovers.”

See the tweets below:

 

Infantino To ‘Respect’ Any Ethics Committee Decision – FIFA

Qatar Must Host Best World Cup Ever, Infantino Warns
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. 
MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP

 

 

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino will “respect any decision by the ethics committee”, world football’s governing body said Monday after Swiss authorities opened criminal proceedings against him last week. 

A Swiss special prosecutor has launched proceedings against Infantino, as part of an investigation into suspected collusion with the country’s attorney general, Michael Lauber. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

“I’ve no doubt that Gianni Infantino would respect any decision by the ethics commission,” FIFA deputy secretary general Alasdair Bell told a video news conference. “We don’t see any evidence of criminal or unethical behaviour,” he said.

FIFA on Sunday insisted Infantino would continue to fulfil his duties as president and blasted the Swiss probe.

 

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.

 

 

It gave no indication on Monday whether or not its ethics committee had instigated proceedings against Infantino.

“The ethics committee will have to come to its own conclusion… In every case, it needs to be tested, if there’s something serious, there’s a case for suspension,” said Bell.

Questioned about Infantino’s absence during Monday’s video conference, Bell said the FIFA chief “will be available and will speak in order to clear his name.”

He added: “FIFA and Gianni Infantino have absolutely nothing to hide, we want to be transparent. There’s no factual basis for this criminal procedure.”

Infantino and Lauber are said to have held a series of meetings in 2016 and 2017.

Two such meetings were initially exposed in 2018 by “Football Leaks”, a cross-border investigation by several European news organisations.

In a statement Thursday, Swiss authorities said special prosecutor Stefan Keller “has reached the conclusion that…there are indications of criminal conduct” in relation to meetings between Infantino, Lauber and another official, Rinaldo Arnold.

“This concerns abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts,” the authorities said.

Lauber, who offered his resignation on July 24, was in charge of Switzerland’s probe into the towering corruption scandal that exploded at the heart of Zurich-based FIFA in 2015.

But he was forced to recuse himself from the investigation in June 2019, following media revelations that he had held several undeclared meetings with Infantino during the probe.

Switzerland has pursued a number of cases since a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May 2015 led to the arrests of a several FIFA executives and exposed an allegedly corrupt underbelly in world football.

In total, more than 20 FIFA proceedings have been opened in Switzerland over the past five years into allegations of corruption and vote-buying, and allegations over the awarding of television rights contracts.

AFP

FIFA President Infantino Faces Swiss Criminal Probe

 

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.

 

 

A Swiss special prosecutor has launched criminal proceedings against FIFA president Gianni Infantino, authorities in Switzerland said Thursday, as part of an investigation into suspected collusion between him and the country’s Attorney General, Michael Lauber.

In a statement, authorities said special prosecutor Stefan Keller “has reached the conclusion that…there are indications of criminal conduct” in relation to meetings between Infantino, Lauber and another official, Rinaldo Arnold.

“This concerns abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts,” the authorities said.

Infantino has not denied that the meetings took place and continued to defend his actions.

“To meet with the Attorney General of Switzerland is perfectly legitimate and it’s perfectly legal,” he said in a statement released by FIFA.

“It’s no violation of anything. On the contrary, it is also part of the fiduciary duties of the president of FIFA.”

 

File photo: 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

 

Lauber resigned last week over his handling of a corruption investigation targeting world football’s troubled governing body.

Infantino and Lauber are said to have held a series of meetings in 2016 and 2017.

Two such meetings were initially exposed in 2018 by “Football Leaks”, a cross-border investigation by several European news organisations.

Like Infantino, Lauber has denied any wrongdoing.

Lauber was in charge of Switzerland’s probe into the corruption scandal that exploded at the heart of FIFA in 2015.

The scandal erupted when Swiss police in May that year raided a luxury hotel in Zurich before dawn, arresting a number of top football officials.

The Swiss judiciary under Lauber quickly opened criminal proceedings against then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter and other top officials.

 

File photo: Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter gestures during a press conference in Zurich on March 8, 2018. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Blatter was eventually removed in 2015 and Infantino took over as FIFA president in 2016.

“It has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at FIFA,” Infantino insisted.

“FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other jurisdictions across the world for exactly these purposes.

“People have been convicted and sentenced, thanks to FIFA’s cooperation, and especially in the United States of America, where our cooperation has resulted in over 40 criminal convictions.

“Therefore, I remain fully supportive of the judicial process, and FIFA remains willing to fully cooperate with the Swiss authorities for these purposes.”

Lauber, 54, has denied accusations that he lied about the meetings but is also under criminal investigation.

A Swiss parliamentary commission decided in May to open proceedings against Lauber over “well-founded suspicion of serious violation of the duties of office either intentionally or by gross negligence”, which risked seeing him sacked.

Previously Lauber had been docked five percent of his salary — reduced from eight percent on appeal — following a disciplinary probe which found that he had repeatedly lied when questions were raised about the FIFA investigation.

Arnold, meanwhile, is a childhood friend of Infantino’s who went on to become a senior prosecutor in Switzerland’s Haut-Valais region where they grew up.

In April a Swiss newspaper, the Tribune de Geneve, alleged that Infantino wrote to Arnold after becoming “worried” about an investigation into him by the country’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in relation to his awarding of a television rights contract to an offshore company in his previous role as UEFA’s legal affairs director.

FIFA responded to that report by saying that emails referred to in the newspaper’s article were “obviously obtained by hacking, which is an illegal and criminal act.”

AFP

 

FIFA Says Transfer Window Can Open Before End Of Season

File: 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 will allow leagues to open their transfer windows before the current, delayed season has been completed as football recovers from the impact of the lengthy coronavirus shutdown, the game’s world governing body announced on Thursday.

FIFA has passed a series of temporary amendments to help deal with the havoc to the football calendar caused by the health crisis.

Most notably, these include allowing the “first registration period” — better known in Europe as the summer transfer window — to “overlap” with the delayed end to this season by up to four weeks.

In normal circumstances, the transfer window does not open until the season has been completed, but many leagues are only just restarting having been halted in March, and will not now finish in many cases until late July.

However, while transfers will be permitted before this season ends, clubs will not be able to field new signings until the next season begins.

The same rule will apply to players moving under freedom of contract.

The transfer window can stay open for up to 12 weeks.

Earlier on Thursday, the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, indicated that the window in Spain would only open once the season has been completed and run from late July to early October.

Previously, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said that the window in England will also only open once the season has finished.

In France, where the season was declared over in late April at the height of the pandemic, the domestic transfer window opened on Monday.

In the case of players whose existing contracts are due to expire before what will now be the end of this season, FIFA has called on clubs to extend those deals “in good faith and on terms that are equitable and reasonable.”

Many players in Europe are set to be out of contract on June 30, several weeks before the campaign now concludes.

FIFA has also recommended that players who have signed pre-contract agreements to join new clubs on July 1 be allowed to stay at their current clubs until the season ends.

Meanwhile, it has also introduced an amendment allowing players who are free agents to play for three different clubs in the course of the same season “in order to avoid any concerns regarding unemployed players”.

Usually players can only represent two clubs in the same season.

AFP

COVID-19: ‘No Match Worth Risking A Life,’ Says FIFA Boss Infantino

File: FIFA president Gianni Infantino holds a press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 13, 2018, two days before the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia. PHOTO: Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday said that “no match” is worth “risking a single human life” and that world football’s governing body would be able to help financially national federations during the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of top football leagues and international competitions have been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Infantino insisted that games would not resume until it was safe.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Must Be Ready For Return To ‘Normality’ – Solskjaer

“Our first priority, our principle, the one we will use for our competitions and encourage everyone to follow is that health comes first,” he said in a video message.

“I cannot stress this enough. No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life.”

The German Bundesliga reportedly could restart behind closed doors in May, with players already back in training, while other leagues could also resume in the summer.

“It would be more than irresponsible to force competitions to resume if things are not 100% safe,” added Infantino.

“If we have to wait a little longer we must do so. It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take any risks.”

Infantino said that national football associations which are struggling financially would receive help from FIFA’s emergency relief fund.

FIFA last week postponed all international matches scheduled for June.

“We are today in a very strong financial situation,” Infantino said.

“But our reserves are not FIFA’s money. It is football’s money. So when football is in need, we must think what we can do to help… It is our responsibility and our duty.”

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.