October 1 – In a further effort to garner support for his organisation’s much-criticised plan to stage the World Cup every two years, FIFA president Gianni Infantino held a summit with more than 200 national federations Thursday in which he banged the drum for how the game should look going forward.
Officially the summit, which was held online, was to discuss the international calendar for both men’s and women’s football beyond 2024. However, in recent weeks FIFA has been relentlessy pushing the idea of a biennial World Cup, a concept being driven by Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development.
According to Wenger space would be created in the calendar by staging all qualifying matches in October, or October and March, rather than spacing them out across the year. But critics say such a break with tradition is one step too far despite a brazen recent public relations move by FIFA in inviting a host of former players and coaches, so-called “legends” who are paid as ambassadors, to Doha to promote the project.
With battle lines drawn, not least over lack of consultation, FIFA pulled together its federations and after Thursday’s meeting said a comprehensive report on the game’s future would be published in November followed by “a global summit before the end of the year”.
Infantino said FIFA was undertaking the “most inclusive and thorough consultation process that the world of football has ever seen” and that FIFA’s “ambitions for football development across the entire world can only be realised if we have more successful events taking place on a more regular basis.”
“We have the opportunity to shape the history of football, look forward, learn from the past and shape the future because our vision is to make football truly global,” he said.
“But we will only make changes if it benefits everyone. No one should be a loser in this everyone should be better at the end of the day. Otherwise, there is no reason to change anything, if the world of world football and everyone in it is not better. We are aware of the different challenges that this entails.
“The new FIFA is open to this type of dialogue as we strive to find the best possible solution for women’s, men’s and youth soccer in the future, both in terms of the international match schedule and the reform of the final tournaments. “
“This first summit was an important step in the consultation process, because it provided the members of the FIFA Council already more than 200 associations member of the FIFA the opportunity to make proposals, ask questions and discuss issues openly and transparently.”
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