FIFA turn Council meet into a conference call amid fears of viruses, cost and rumours of insurrection

February 20 – In a rare example of cost cutting among its highest-ranking officials, FIFA have scrapped plans to hold next month’s two-day session in  South America and have told members not to travel.

Instead, the 37-member panel will meet via video conference link hosted at FIFA’s Zurich headquarters on March 20.

Since 2016, the Council has held meetings all over the world including Bahrain, Moscow, Kigali, Kolkata, Bogota, Paris, Miami and Shanghai.

But FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura cited “widespread concerns” expressed by some members of long travel times to Paraguay’s capital, Asunción. These included international travel because of the Coronavirus outbreak in China, plus costs and environmental reasons.

The decision comes amid heightened tensions between the FIFA hierarchy and leaders of the scandal-plagued African Football Confederation who have seven members on the Council including CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.

Doubtless the meeting would have held some significant tension with a face-to-face encounter, which would have been heightened by rumours that UEFA and Conmebol (who re-signed a more vigorous memorandum of understanding last week) had discussed a potential proposal of a vote of no-confidence in FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

While the enmity between UEFA and Infantino is well documented, there has been growing concerns reportedly articulated by Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez, that they have been “betrayed” by Infantino.

FIFA’s take-over of Africa and Infantino’s quest for new money making competitions is increasingly being viewed as an assault by FIFA on confederation revenue streams and competitions. The example of a reduced CAF with their loss of commercial partner, reduced revenue, loss of TV deals and proposals for a significant reduction in inter-continental competition being the proof of the hypothesis.

By reducing the opportunity for face-to-face, FIFA are reducing the opportunity of a co-ordinated insurrection.

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