The International Olympic Committee (IOC) broke its silence on Saturday about FIFA’s plan to hold the World Cup every two years, and did so to clearly position itself against Gianni Infantino’s idea.
“IOC supports the calls for a wider consultations on FIFA’s World Cup plans and shares concern”, reads the statement published after the IOC’s executive board meeting in Athens.
“A number of International Federations (IFs) of other sports, national football federations, clubs, players, players associations and coaches have expressed strong reservations and concerns regarding the plans to generate more revenue for FIFA, mainly for the following reasons”, the statement adds, going into detail on the three reasons: impact on other sports, gender equality and player welfare.
“The increased frequency and timing for the World Cup would create a clash with other major international sports. This includes tennis, cycling, golf, gymnastics, swimming, athletics, Formula 1 and many others. This would undermine the diversity and development of sports other than football”, is the IOC’s development of the first argument.
On the next, gender equality, the Olympic body is brief and to the point: “The increase in men’s events in the calendar would create challenges for the further promotion of women’s football”.
The final argument points to the fact that Infantino’s plans will negatively affect the welfare and health of players by generating “a further massive strain on the physical and mental health of the players”.
Last month, IOC President Thomas Bach had merely said that he was following developments with interest.
“This is an issue to be decided by FIFA and the continental associations, we are following closely, monitoring these discussions, and find them very interesting”.
The IOC President added that he would “not interfere” in the debate.
“Let this discussion evolve, the consequences or potential consequences of such a move becoming clearer day by day thanks to thanks to this discussion within FIFA and in particular there also through the contributions of the continental associations of FIFA”.
UEFA and CONMEBOL have already expressed their opposition to Infantino’s plans, with former French coach Arsene Wenger leading the project that is generating controversy in world sport.
On other issues unrelated to the FIFA controversy, the IOC emphasized the “very strong, positive feedback from the testing events” on the way to Beijing 2022 Winter Games, as well as the interest that the athletes commission election generated.
“We got two positions available for election, for those two vacant positions we have 17 nominations, this is a record for the Winter Games, and from the five continents”, said Kit McConnell, IOC’s sports director.
Mark Adams, IOC, spokesperson, couldn’t clarify details about the timetable envisaged for the selection of the host city for the 2030 Winter Games, for which there are five potential candidates.
“Not sure when that will be beginning. With the new system that we have we run now in a much more consultative way”, he answered.
The IOC confirmed that the case of Kristina Timanovskaya, the Belarusian athlete who was granted a humanitarian visa in Poland after alleging inappropriate pressure from coaches of her delegation during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is in the hands of the athletics leadership.
“The World Athletics integrity unit is taking the investigation (...) and we will be collaborating for the continuation of that”.