At a meeting of the FIFA Council in Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino set the course for a long-term presidency and a mega-club World Cup with 32 teams from 2025. The Swiss announced this on Friday. It was also announced that the next FIFA Club World Cup will be held in Morocco from 1 to 11 February 2023. The World Team Championship is also scheduled to start in 2025.
Infantino approached the press with some delay and then wasted no time making big promises. In addition to the terrible Club World Cup and the new format of test matches, FIFA expects sales of $11 billion for 2026. “Ten billion flows directly into football,” said the Swiss, obliquely explaining the basic principle in FIFA’s elections. The World League pays huge sums and thus guarantees the satisfaction of the majority of the 211 member federations, already loyal to Infantino.
Almost coincidentally, the FIFA President also reported during an hour-long appearance at the Qatar World Cup Media Center stage that, according to the statutes, he would be able to remain in office with two re-elections until 2031. The eternal Infantino? Infantino said after a unanimous clarification in the FIFA Council that he is in his “first term”.
The Swiss took over the remainder of his first three years in FIFA from 2016 to 2019 from his predecessor, Joseph Blatter, who was elected in May 2015 and resigned shortly thereafter. Confirmation in the post came three and a half years later in Paris. In March, the 52-year-old will run in new elections in Kigali unopposed. The FIFA President may serve a maximum of three terms.
“Everything is possible with money,” said a German news agency dpa official who was closely linked to FIFA. Already in the four-year cycle to the end of this year, the sales result was $7.5 billion, thus $1 billion higher than expected. “At a time that has been hit hard by a pandemic,” Infantino said. “This is unusual.” Marketing results are likely to have a significant impact. More money “goes back into football,” Infantino said.
The new tournament, scheduled every four years, will replace the previous mini-World Cup, which will be launched in Morocco next February and seven teams are still playing. The six continental champions (Real Madrid for Europe) and the host are set. Infantino said the new format promises to be “really like the World Cup”. Details are still being discussed, including the hosts and teams involved. The introduction of the Club World Cup to women’s teams is still in the planning stage.
In even-numbered years with the alignment of the World Cup or the European Championship, tournaments of four people from national teams from different continents will be held in the March International Games window, “world championship” matches. The term is known from North American baseball. Infantino said the World Cup in Qatar showed how great matches between teams from different confederations can be.
“Many people came to Qatar and discovered the Arab world that they did not know or knew only through the media,” said Infantino. “At the same time, the people of Qatar have welcomed many people from all over the world.” The world saw that “people are basically positive, not negative. It’s good, not bad,” said Infantino, noting that the 62 World Cup matches until Friday had been fought without incident.
The Swiss addressed briefly the “One Love” captain’s armband controversy. Asked about the bandage, the 52-year-old answered, “It’s not about banning something, it’s about following the rules.” “Football is played on the soccer field. Everyone can express their opinion, but when you step onto the pitch we have to respect soccer. This is nothing new.” It’s about protecting football.
The best European teams wanted to show up in Qatar with the “One Love” badge as a symbol of tolerance and diversity. However, FIFA banned this in a very short time and threatened sporting sanctions. As the federations followed FIFA’s instructions, they were also accused of giving in to Infantino.
Asked about the lack of support from European countries such as Denmark or Germany for his planned re-election, Infantino said: “211 countries around the world are represented in FIFA. I am very grateful and proud of these 200-plus associations that support me. I also thank others.” He is proud. There are discussions. Of course there are different interests, cultures and points of view. As FIFA we have to take care of everyone, we are a global organization.”
Meanwhile, former German world champion Philipp Lahm has sharply criticized the FIFA president for his administration. “FIFA continued to lose credibility with the High Representative. One gets the impression that Gianni Infantino is not looking for the best solution in terms of football and that he simply does not have integrity,” the main organizer of the EM 2024 tournament in Germany told Deutschland Deutschland.