KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Qatar’s capabilities as the next World Cup host will be put to the test with its hosting of the FIFA Club World Cup in December this year and next (2020).

The decision taken by the world federation’s governing council in Paris had been long expected after the earlier agreement to kill off the unloved Confederations Cup which had served previously as a tournament organisers’ warm-up.

Gianni Infantino . . . FIFA president until 2031?

Formal ratification will be approved in the French capital by Wednesday’s FIFA Congress which will also see the unopposed re-election for a first full four-year term of president Gianni Infantino.

The Swiss lawyer was elected in 2016 to see out the remaining three years of the mandate of disgraced and banned Sepp Blatter. Under term limit regulations Infantino can serve a maximum of three full terms so, being now ‘only’ 49, he could remain in office until after his 61st birthday in 2031.

Congress will also be presented with confirmation by FIFA Council that the Qatar World Cup will feature 32 teams and not the 48 being welcomed to the 2026 finals in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Infantino had led a teasing political exercise about a possible expansion until, coincidentally, after the deadline closed for presidential nominees. Last month FIFA council issued a shy press release indicating that Qatar would maintain the status quo – as was always expected by insiders.

Newly-crowned European champions Liverpool, despite erroneous reports to the contrary, will contest the Club World Cup this year.

In other regulatory changes the word “corruption” will be restored to the English version of FIFA Code of Ethics from which it had disappeared in the formal legalese – although it remained in the French version.

FIFA statement:

** In the lead-up to the 69th FIFA Congress and the opening of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™, the members of the FIFA Council convened in Paris today for meeting no. 10 of the decision-making body.

Following the approval of a revamped FIFA Club World Cup with 24 teams, the pilot edition of which will be played in 2021, the FIFA Council decided to award Qatar the right to host the next two editions of the tournament in its existing format in 2019 and 2020.

The upcoming editions of the seven-team competition will serve as valuable test events in the build-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022™, even more so since their timing – usually around early December – corresponds with that of the next FIFA World Cup™, allowing for testing under similar climatic conditions.

In regard to the pilot edition of the expanded FIFA Club World Cup in 2021, the FIFA administration will analyse and proactively approach potential hosts before making a recommendation at the next FIFA Council meeting, in Shanghai, China PR, on 23 and 24 October.

The key decisions taken by the FIFA Council at meeting no. 10 included:

Decision to lift the suspension of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) with immediate effect, after the High Court of Sierra Leone acquitted the SLFA President and the SLFA General Secretary of all charges on 27 May, which ensured that the recognised leadership has full control of the member association again.

Following a proposal from Senior Vice-President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al‑Khalifa, the FIFA Council unanimously agreed to submit a proposal to the Congress to amend the FIFA Statutes. This statutory amendment, which is already largely applied at confederation level (e.g. the AFC, CAF, Concacaf, UEFA), would allow the Congress to decide to elect the President by acclamation when there is only one candidate.

Amendments to regulations

The members of the FIFA Council approved a series of amendments to three sets of FIFA regulations, including:

FIFA Code of Ethics

  • Amendment of parts of the text, including the reinsertion of the word “corruption”, even though corruption was, in fact, already covered by article 27 regarding bribery
  • Inclusion of sexual exploitation and abuse as severe infringements
  • Amendments to come into force on 1 August 2019

FIFA Disciplinary Code

  • Inclusion of zero tolerance of racism, with matches to be declared automatically forfeited following the application of the “three-step procedure”
  • Disciplinary Committee to act as the exclusive judicial body dealing with match‑manipulation activities
  • Transparency: FIFA to guarantee public hearings in cases of doping and match manipulation, and to publish all decisions
  • Amended FIFA Disciplinary Code to come into force on 15 July 2019

FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players

  • Endorsement of amendments that follow the principles agreed on by the Football Stakeholders Committee, which had in turn been endorsed by the FIFA Council as part of the “First Reform Package”
  • The implementation of these amendments will create the necessary framework for the technology underlying a complete electronic database covering a player´s career history
  • Increased maximum litigious value of cases submitted to the Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC), in order to enable more cases to be decided by the DRC judge
  • Revised provisions come into force on 1 October 2019 with mandatory implementation from 1 July 2020
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