By Andrew Warshaw
May 21 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino today outlined an 11-point plan for making football “truly global” and in doing so took another veiled swipe at Europe’s perceived domination of the sport.
Trumpeting all the attributes he believes his organisation possesses such as unity, solidarity and, in particular in the current climate, FIFA’s Covid Relief Fund, Infantino made it abundantly clear in an unusually long 45-minute address to the 71st FIFA Congress (held virtually) that when it came to both men’s and women’s football, FIFA would endeavour to strike the right balance between maintaining healthy competition and financing the development of the sport.
Not for the first time, Infantino said that in an ideal world there would be 50 national teams and 50 clubs competing for the top prizes.
“We are always saying football is a global sport but is football really global,” he told delegates attending by video-conference for the second year running.
“The answer is no, it is not. There are fewer and fewer countries and even fewer clubs who have the highest resources”
“There is not one single club in the top 30 in terms of revenue that is not from outside Europe.”
“When it comes to national teams the trend is going to more imbalance: 100% of the semi-finalists in the last four World Cups came from only two confederations – Europe and South America;
“The European member associations are doing a fantastic job and we want Europe to grow even more but we want the rest of the world and the rest of Europe who is not part of the elite to grow as well and at a much higher pace than so far.”
Infantino has been accused, since the collapse of the European Super League, of not being vociferous enough in his condemnation of the project with some – notably La Liga boss Javier Tebas – going so far as to suggest the FIFA president actually aided and abetted the plan in order to boost interest, from the 2023-2024 season, in a new format of the Club World Cup, his pet project.
Not so, said Infantino.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – FIFA is against such a project. Football should not have to look outside of our structures.”
Perhaps the most interesting element to the average fan of a generally underwhelming address was Infantino’s promise that changes were afoot in terms of the offside law – the bane of the modern game when it comes to hairsbreadth marginal decisions.
The sooner the better.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com