October 7 – When FIFA football isn’t being played in an international window, politics will be. FIFA president Gianni Infantino was in Paris earlier this week to meet French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, also present was French FA president Noël Le Graët.
Infantino’s fondness for meeting heads of state is growing, having jetted back from the US the day before FIFA’s Congress having met with US president Donald Trump and reinserted himself in the Middle East peace process (though as far as the optics go from a very US/Israeli perspective). He also popped into Italy for an espresso with Italian prime minister
The outcome of the Paris meeting was an accord for FIFA to open a Paris office, working with ‘Choose France’, the French body that encourages new investment into the country.
The office is expected to open at the beginning of 2021, said FIFA in a press release.
“FIFA, which was founded in the French capital in 1904, is thus going back to its roots by opening these new facilities, which will also lead to new activities in the Paris region,” said the press release.
“This new undertaking is in line with FIFA’s desire to consolidate its relations with France and the French-speaking world, as well as UNESCO and the French Development Agency (AFD), partners in the educational and development policies it deploys through football.”
FIFA has emphasised that the new office opening is not a first step towards moving FIFA’s headquarters back to Paris where it was founded in 1904 (it moved to Switzerland in 1934). Rather it is understood to become more of a hub for some parts of FIFA’s commercial business, as well as an initiative to get closer to its French speaking member federations, especially those from Africa.
Singapore, London and Dubai were reportedly considered as alternative locations for the office.
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