NYON: Gianni Infantino would increase the number of teams competing at the World Cup finals from 32 to 40, if he is elected as president of world federation FIFA next February.
The general secretary of European governing body has stood as a candidate pending the election campaign prospects of president Michel Platini who is currently serving a provisional ethics suspension over misconduct allegations.
In the meantime, he is setting out his own vision for football with a view towards the election in February 26 for a successor to outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter (also, himself, under suspension).
Infantino said: “I believe in expanding the World Cup based on the experience we had in Europe with the Euros.
“Look at qualifiers now where some teams who have never qualified did and some teams which have always qualified didn’t make it. So it created a completely new dynamic in the qualification. It created new enthusiasm. If you are serious about developing football it must involve more associations in the best football event in the world: The World Cup.”
Increasing in time for Qatar in 2022 might be difficult since the plan is to squeeze the 64 games into 28 days to cope with the timing switch but Infantino is dangling the carrot for future tournaments.
Although the bulk of his support will come from within UEFA, Infantino insisted his appeal extended beyond Europe.
He said: “I don’t have a European vision. I have a vision for football.
“It’s not a question about other candidates, it’s a question about Europe being present and making its voice heard. When you have a function in football like mine with responsibilities you have to assume responsibility when times are difficult, to put yourself forward in order to try to change this and bring messages forward.
“I hope that on all of the ideas [Michel Platini] will agree with but maybe on some of them the priorities are maybe not exactly the same.
“I have been working with Michel Platini for the last nine years. We share many views and many ideas. It’s obvious we have the same philosophy on many things but I am a candidate on my own, I will have ideas on my own.”
Other contenders whose credentials are being examined by the ethics and electoral committees are the Asian federation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, Liberia federation president Musa Bility and the former FIFA official Jérôme Champagne.
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