By Paul Nicholson
June 18 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has dismissed talk of 2017 being the last staging of the Confederations Cup, saying that the time now is to focus on the game.
“Today we have to focus in this Confederations Cup. We are here to watch some great football,” said Infantino, speaking before the Portugal vs Mexico tie in Kazan. “Then we will see what is going to happen.”
It was Infantino himself who put the Confederations Cup on notice in November, when as part of his leadership review he said that everything was “on the table,” including playing on a different date or with a different format.
Infantino stressed that it was important to make sure that the current Confederations Cup worked well as a warm-up and test event for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil was vital in the regard with multiple lessons and on-the-ground learnings being carried forward to the World Cup in 2014.
Russia is further advanced than Brazil was at this stage, but is still not without its own challenges.
The abandonment of the Confederations Cup in its current format would be a big change in the four year cycle of the international calendar with many confederations timing their own competitions to act as qualifying for the competition. The main resistance to the Confederations Cup coming mainly from Europe and Germany in particular this edition, who have complained that the international calendar is putting too much stress on their top players and have chosen to rest key squad members for this championship.
Scheduling of the next Confederations Cup in 2021 is a thorny issue. With the 2022 World Cup already moved to a winter slot, European clubs in particular would baulk at another world national team championship being pushed into the middle of their seasons. Qatar, with their ability to cool stadia, and the current advanced status if their stadium development, could conceivably host in June 2021.
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