KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —- Few commentators, excepting those determined to be permanently critical of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, could find much to challenge in the Vision 2020-2023** document he has just published.
Infantino has marked the fourth anniversary of his original election in place of disgraced Sepp Blatter by revealing his ambitions for the world football federation for the next three years.
The document is heavy on intent and light on detail; the overall impression is pursuit of world football command and control on an ever greater scale than at present.
This has already, of course, been foreshadowed by FIFA’s erratic attempt over the past two decades to carve out a slice of the lucrative international club competitions market.
Most notable absence – even in the sections dealing with the game’s governance – is any reference whatsoever to the role of the six regional confederations who have played such a distinct and often disruptive role in the political arena.
The confederations are the bodies which populate the FIFA Council and yet they are not members of FIFA and relationships with what Michel Platini once described as “the mother house” have grown increasingly fractitious.
Europe’s UEFA is highly suspicious of Infantino’s pet project of an expanded Club World Cup in China in 2021, Africa’s CAF is resentful over FIFA’s proposal to reorganise and reschedule the Cup of Nations while South America’s CONMEBOL has thrown its toys out of the pram over FIFA’s switch of next month’s council meeting out of Paraguay and back to Zurich.
One would have thought that an essential plank in FIFA’s plans to streamline, upgrade and unify the game’s governance would be developing a relationship with the confederations which is fit for purpose.
If so, not one word is to be found in Vision 2020-2023.
Perhaps this is more about politics than practicalities but then politics, as Bismarck famously noted, is the art of the possible.
Infantino describes his road map as a document which “lays out out a plan to further modernise the football world, make it increasingly inclusive and pave the way to a landscape in which, one day, we will have at least 50 national teams and 50 clubs from all continents at a top competitive level.”
He says: “The Vision 2020-2023: Making Football Truly Global is a blueprint for FIFA to pursue the objective of making football truly global while navigating a fast-changing world.”
Just as predecessor Blatter promoted an 11-point health-and-fitness plan, so Infantino also takes up the ‘football team’ analogy for a convenient 11 key goals.
1. Modernise the football regulatory framework
2. Grow revenues sustainably for further reinvestment in football
3. Increase the efficiency and efficacy of the organisation
4. Ensure the success of our iconic competitions
5. Globalise our competitions
6. Increase global competitiveness
7. Maximise our impact on global football development
8. Accelerate the growth of women’s football
9. Harness technology in football
10. Protect positive values in football
11. Impact society through the power of football
Infantino adds: “Each of these goals is constituted of four pillars, which range from delivering sustainable tournaments to creating more opportunities for our members to host a FIFA tournament; from creating unique experiences for fans and global audiences to fighting against racism and all other forms of discrimination.”
In 2o23 he will, no doubt, be standing for re-election for what would be his own second full term.
Congress voters have now been given the manifesto with which to compare ambition and achievement.
** The Vision 2020-2023: Making Football Truly Global is available at FIFA.com/Vision2020-2023.