The tension unleashed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s project to hold the World Cup every two years is generating increasingly harsh responses.
Gianni Infantino is on a tour of South America, this Monday in Argentina, but European soccer hopes that he will take the time this Tuesday to participate in a videoconference in which they want to make it clear to him that the biennial World Cup is a bad idea.
So bad do they consider it, that recently a group of national federations that make up UEFA, some of them among the biggest in Europe, came up with an idea to stop FIFA: appeal to article 18 of UEFA’s statutes.
As confirmed by Around the Rings, the proposal to activate that article by that group of large and medium-sized UEFA federations would mean leaving FIFA. “Let’s play a World Cup with Conmebol, and good luck to FIFA,” it was said.
It cannot be said that Infantino does not have accurate information about the discontent in European soccer. In late September, UEFA president Aleksandr Ceferin visited Zurich to meet with the FIFA president, Around the Rings was able to confirm. No agreements are known to have resulted from that meeting, and disagreements continued in public.
UEFA objects to FIFA’s project as not only a devaluation of the World Cup, which has been held every four years since its creation in 1930, but also a serious problem for the Euro, the national tournaments and the health of footballers.
This Tuesday, the 55 European national federations are meeting in virtual format with Ceferin in Nyon, Switzerland. Infantino was invited to participate.
Another sporting body of great power and influence that is upset with the FIFA president is the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The idea of playing a World Cup every two years would, in principle, imply an overlap with the Olympic Games. Thus, the attention of audiences on television and other platforms would be demanded at an unprecedented level, as would sponsors’ budgets.
Infantino is a member of the IOC, an exclusive club of 102 people. Germany’s Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, is not exactly happy with his FIFA counterpart’s idea, let alone his manner: he learned of the idea at the same time as the rest of the world.
“At no time did the FIFA President contact the IOC President to discuss these proposals.” IOC spokesman Mark Adams confirmed to Around the Rings.
A month earlier, Bach had been laconic, and 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 this discussion within FIFA and in particular there also through the contributions of the continental associations of FIFA.”
From that calculated distance to the IOC’s harsh statement released on Saturday and the decision to make it clear that Infantino never warned Bach of his idea is a long way. In just one month, the gap between the two organizations grew and the level of confrontation, which also includes UEFA, accelerated.