By Samindra Kunti
February 24 – In a letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Conmebol boss Alejandro Dominguez (pictured) has expressed his “disappointment” and accused the world federation of “discrimination” and “abuse of power” by moving the FIFA Council from Paraguay back to Zurich.
In the document, seen by Brazilian media Globo, the South American football administrator stated that the decision to cancel the event because of the distance “violates the principle of non-discrimination promoted by FIFA throughout its history, […] represents a unilateral and exclusive decision, which represents a clear abuse of power “.
Last week, the world governing body scrapped plans to hold next month’s two-day FIFA Council session in South America and told members not to travel. Instead, the Council will convene at FIFA HQ in Zurich, with other members joining by video link. Since Gianni Infantino’s ascension to the FIFA throne, the organisation has staged Council meetings in Bahrain, Moscow, Kigali, Kolkata, Bogota, Paris, Miami and Shanghai.
FIFA and its secretary-general Fatma Samoura cited travel times, the coronavirus, high costs and environmental concerns to justify the sudden U-turn, but Dominguez’s fierce reaction suggests his allegiance to Infantino may be waning. In an interview with the Associated Press, he said: “I must tell you that the decision to suspend the meeting in Asunción of the FIFA Council took me by surprise. The arguments they gave strongly call our attention. But that is something that FIFA will have to explain.”
In his letter, Dominguez dismissed the threat of the coronavirus in South America. He wrote: “So far, the different international public health agencies have not detected any cases of contagion by this disease in South America, even less in Paraguay, a fact that is unfortunately distant from the reality of other continents […] I believe that mentioning the coronavirus as a factor for not holding the meeting in Paraguay lacks consistent and rigorous foundations proper to an organization that governs the destinies of international football.”
He also added that “distance was never a decisive criteria” to decide the location of the Council meetings. Dominguez demanded a detailed expenses report covering the last five Council meetings in Shanghai, Paris, Miami, Kigali and Moscow.
FIFA’s response came from Samoura, who emphasized the switch was the result of careful decision-making. “I am convinced that, despite the understandable initial disappointment, you will accept this decision, taken after the circumstances of the moment, the comments and requests of several of your colleagues, were weighed,” said Samoura. “I also trust that you share our concerns and efforts in terms of sustainability and optimization of expenses, knowing that the future involves greater responsibility and sensitivity in these areas.”
On the back of growing tension between various confederations and FIFA, the latest altercation is telling. Earlier this month, UEFA and Conmebol resigned a memorandum of understanding to seek to both intensify the bonds between the two confederations and enhance greater cooperation. Dominguez has long been an ally of Infantino, but, together with UEFA, Conmebol has been critical of FIFA’s new format for the Club World Cup.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600856071labto1600856071ofdlr1600856071owedi1600856071sni@t1600856071catno1600856071c1600856071