ZURICH: FIFA president Gianni Infantino is open to the world federation expanding its competitions in all directions from national teams to clubs writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
In comments to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and while attending the European Club Association assembly in Geneva, Infantino raised the possibiloity of doubling the Club World Cup in size and reiterated his positive view about a 40-team World Cup staged across several neighbouring nations.
The Club World Cup, staged annually in early December, currently features the club champions of all the six confederations plus the champions of the host nation.
Current host, as for most of the past two decades, has been Japan though in 2017 and 2018 the Club World Cup will switch to the United Arab Emirates.
Infantino indicated that the competition could be doubled 16 teams in an effort to increase interest which remains minimal in Europe even though its clubs have won eight of the last nine tournaments.
His progressive attitude to the World Cup suggested a realistic prospect of the finals being staged by CONCACAF’s ‘Big three’ – United States, Mexico and Canada – in 2026.
The expanded FIFA Council meets in full reformed session for the first time on October 13-14 and Infantino said: “These two topics [expansion and co-hosting] will certainly be on the table for discussion . . . There is no limit to whatever is good for football.
“It’s true that CONCACAF did not have the World Cup for a long time.”
Infantino was general secretary and European federation UEFA when it decided to expand its own Euro finals to 24 teams in France this year and then spread the matches across a swath of countries in 2020.
As for importing these concepts to the World Cup, he said: “My opinion on the 40 teams has not changed. We saw in France, with eight more teams, what kind of enthusiasm this generated in many countries.
“These are more than just a competition, they are real social events in the whole world.”
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