ZURICH: FIFA is not renewing its World Player of the Year partnership with France Football and reportedly considering taking the annual gala back out on the road, initially to London writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This will come as a relief to journalists on the Paris weekly and its sister publication L’Equipe who have long been uncomfortable at being ‘in bed’ commercially with the scandal-scarred world football federation.
The Swiss business publication Handelszeitung has claimed that FIFA wants to refashion the gala to distance it from its old identity as a personal favourite ‘parade-ground’ for disgraced former president Sepp Blatter.
Gianni Infantino, who took over as president in February, is considering finding a new name for the gala and taking it ‘on the road’ with a particular view to its promotion and suitability for FIFA sponsors. London would be a favourite venue for a new start because of its status as a world broadcasting and media hub.
FIFA launched its World Player awards in 1990 in co-operation with the European Sports Magazines association. Initially the gala was staged in various cities, including Brussels and Lisbon, but the settled in Zurich.
This latter staging, at the Zurich Kongresshaus, became permanent after the 2010 deal through which FIFA’s World Player award swallowed up France Football’s long-running European Footballer of the Year prize which was trhe original golden football or Ballon d’Or.
The next gala is scheduled to be held in January, as usual.
This is not the only 2017 FIFA event in search of a new home. FIFA Congress next May will not be staged, as planned, in Kuala Lumpur because the Malaysian authorities will not admit delegates from the Israeli football federation.