KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Lurid predictions of a schism between FIFA and UEFA and the end of international football as we know it have proved unfounded. Predictably. That would have been in no-one’s interest.

However world federation president Gianni Infantino’s initial gallop to snatch at a $25bn spectre has been reined back to a canter.

Predecessor Sepp Blatter’s favoured compromise solution to controversy was to create a taskforce. This is the solution Infantino’s FIFA Council has gratefully grasped to consider expansion of the Club World Cup and creation of a global nations league.

Infantino . . . two steps forward, one step back

The new competitions issue before council in Kigali, Rwanda, had been complicated by the prospect of monies emanating from a Saudi business or a sovereign fund. That concern, particularly amid current political tensions,  has been parked for the time being at least.

In the meantime a tightly controlled taskforce headed by Infantino and comprising the six confederation presidents will come up with tournament options to set before before council next March.

Commercial vista

After that, said Infantino, the taskforce would study the potential commercial impact. This indicated clearly that, while footballing issues had progressed, the financial imperative was no longer shining as lucratively and urgently.

In other issues, FIFA Council approved a doubling of prize money for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and barred the Spanish league from transporting a Barcelona game to Miami.

The new competitions issue had raised more angst in Europe than in the rest of the world put together. European federation UEFA was concerned that an expanded Club World Cup would drain its Champions League of broadcast and sponsor revenues while the continent’s leagues and players’ union FIFPro feared greater demands on players.

Infantino said: “We have taken a decision to overhaul the Club World Cup and discuss a world nations league so we have set up a taskforce which will operate under the direction of the bureau of the FIFA Council and we will then present the proposals at the next council meeting in Miami on March 14 and 15.

“Once we have finalised the proposals then we will see what commercial impact these competitions will have.

“But, before [we need to know] whether we play the Club World Cup every four years or every year with eight or 16 of 24 or 32 teams, whether we play a global nations league with matches between teams from different confederations and whether it takes place over four or six or eight matchdays.

“These are all elements to be taken into account when looking at the commercial exploitation.”

‘No drama here. . .’

Infantino, while conceding wide disagreement over the shape of tomorrow’s world, expressed himself baffled at the heated tone of debate ahead of the meeting.

He said: “Hopefully we will come with some good news for world football sooner rather than later. I don’t know why discussing football competitions around the world needs to take such dramatic tones.

“Everyone in the world agrees that the Club World Cup needs to be revamped. Some parties have different interests and that’s OK and we were not going to decide today how to do it. When we take final decisions we can be criticised by those who disagree but hopefully the majority will agree.”

Infantino denied that a sovereign wealth fund had raised the initial financial offer but came as close as he could, without naming names, to confirm the investor as the Japanese Softbank conglomerate. This does have both US and Saudi investors.

In further discussion of the calendar gaps for a Club World Cup Infantino hinted at possible access to the August window which Europe’s elite use for lucrative pre-season tours to the United States and/or Far East.

This might be seen as a move to head off club tournament proposals from the US Relevent group. In that case, FIFA will certainly be able to gain UEFA support, given a suitable financial settlement.