(ATR) Big changes may be on the horizon for FIFA in the coming year.
The largest international sport federation is debating changes to its flagship event, may have more power within the IOC decision making framework, and may be lumped into the Russian question.
At the helm for FIFA is Gianni Infantino the former Secretary General for the Union of European Football Associations. Infantino ran on a platform of reform for FIFA in rhe aftermath of the scandle-strewn administration of predecessorSepp Blatter,
Infantino’s first major reform could be the expansion of the FIFA World Cup Finals. Currently the tournament has 32 teams, but Infantino has confirmed the body is looking at 40 or 48 teams in the future. More teams would mean more revenue for the tournament, but a potential for the dilution of talent. An expanded tournament could be seen as a way to get China and India, two of the largest countries in the world and untapped football markets, an easier chance to qualify for the World Cup.
The IOC may extend membership to Infantino, continuing a trend that includes FIFA's most recent previous presidents Joao Havelange and Blatter.
Infantino and FIFA will have to walk a fine line as fallout continues over the second part of the McLaren Report. The 2018 World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia and it remains to be seen if the fallout affects the tournament. Anti-doping tests for the 2014 World Cup were conducted in Lausanne due to the suspension of the Rio de Janeiro laboratory. The Moscow lab, as is the rest of the Russian anti-doping system, is in a state of suspension while a range of issues need solving.
The 2017 Confederations Cup, the customary one year warm-up to the World Cup may inspire Russia to pick up the pace of anti-doping reforms.
In addition to assuring the public the 2018 tournament will be clean, the preparations for the controversial 2022 edition in Qatar will continue to be pushed into the spotlight. FIFA pushed back the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup, but Infantino must begin the work to solicit multiple strong bids to regain trust in the bidding process.
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Written by Aaron Bauer
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