ZURICH: Gianni Infantino is determined to keep the pressure on top players by pushing ahead with a revamped Club World Cup in the years between World Cup and continental championships writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

World federation FIFA took over control of the World Club Cup in 2005 and expanded it into an seven-team tournament whose hosting has alternated between mostly Japan but also Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

However the tournament has failed to gain in profile in the valuable European broadcasting and commercial market even though the Champions League winners have triumphed in 10 of the last tournaments.

Real Madrid raise the Club World Cup last December

Unfortunately for FIFA the early-December staging is smothered by national domestic football coverage. Hence the idea of shifting it into the European close-season summer months.

Infantino told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport: “I think it will be started from June 2021, every four years in June, with 24 teams – half of which would come Europe – in eight groups of three clubs then knockout quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.”

The likelihood is that the expanded Club World Cup would become the warm-up event for the national teams’ World Cup the following year, replacing the unpopular Confederations Cup. This means the 2021 finals might be scheduled for Qatar’s air-cooled stadia.

Calendar analysis

FIFA Council will undertake an extensive review of the international calendar at its meeting in Bogota, Colombia, on March 15-16.

Reviewing other issues, Infantino expressed concern with the current system of transfer windows. Already the English Premier League has decided, unilaterally, to trim the summer window experimentally so that it closes before the opening matches of the new season.

Infantino said: “The summer window must be reduced: it’s too long. The domestic league championships should start with the squads already complete. As for the January market, it was meant to resolve ‘simple’ problems such as injuries or other setbacks, not to rebuild a squad as is happening many times now.

“I do not like seeing a footballer playing the first half of a tournament with one club and the second with another. This is not a question of nostalgia, I appreciate that things change but I would like to recover the values ​​that have made football great.”

Infantino repeated his will to see video refereeing used at the World Cup finals in Russia in June and July.

He conceded that progress was essential to reduce the ‘waiting time’ and improve communication to fans but added: “It is important to guard against the referees making serious mistakes so that a World Cup cannot be won by a mistake.”