By Tim Röhn
April 10 – UEFA has refused to comment on a proposal by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to seek approval for a secret $25 billion donor to buy the new UEFA Nations League and the Club World Cup.
The proposal and the manner in which it was presented, and its lack of detail, has privately caused fury amongst the confederations – in particular the Europeans.
“We can confirm that the FIFA president mentioned an alleged offer to buy some rights at the FIFA Council meeting in Bogotá. As Gianni Infantino did not provide any concrete details on what such an offer would entail and which entity would have been behind it, we have no comment to make on the topic,” said a UEFA press statement to Insideworldfootball.
First unveiled by Infantino at the FIFA Council meeting in Bogota two weeks ago, it was refused approval by Council.
The idea is that the money donor (believed to be from the Middle East and Asia) would acquire the Nations League and the Club World Cup for the period 2021 to 2033, but only if it is run by FIFA.
A further condition of the deal, as proposed by Infantino, was that it would be on the table for just 60 days.
Asked by FIFA Council where the money was coming from and for more specifics on what they would be buying, Infantino replied that he had signed a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and could not reveal any more detail.
Not surprisingly the FIFA Council refused to back Infantino, but what is perhaps more surprising is that in an era of supposedly increased FIFA transparency and integrity, Infantino had the chutzpah to try to railroad the deal through.
This has not stopped Infantino, and having failed to win the support of the FIFA Council, he then travelled to the recent European Club Association meeting in Rome where he pitched the delegates the same sales story he had given the FIFA Council.
The move was an attempt to get the ECA and its clubs to pressure the European governing body into falling behind the plan.
Infantino’s belief that the clubs would follow the money was ill-founded. According to one delegate “he was nearly kicked out of the room’. He left the meeting without any support but having further angered the UEFA representatives, among who was UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin who had reportedly told Infantino he should drop the proposal.
The move by Infantino is a direct assault on the two areas of international competition that have the greatest revenue potential, but to get to that pot of gold Infantino has to remove UEFA from the equation. An expanded and coherent Club World Cup with the world’s biggest and best teams would be a threat to the UEFA Champions League revenue base, while UEFA’s fledgling Nations League competition has the ability to grow to become the most credible and competitive national team competition, particularly if it opens up to countries outside Europe.
By pushing the proposal, FIFA and Infantino have raised the stakes in world football’s revenue hunt. Infantino has promised FIFA’s 211 member nations a fourfold increase in development funds. He also faces re-election next year. This proposal could backfire on him if it awakens the often sleeping European giant (in global terms) to rethink their support.
FIFA did not reply to questions on Infantino’s proposal.
Contact the writer of this story Tim Röhn at ed.nh1603365878eormi1603365878t@rt1603365878. Additional reporting by Paul Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org