KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING — The controversial prospect of a World Cup every two years appeared to recede after a declaration from FIFA president Gianni Infantino that he wants all the global game onside in reorganising the international match calendar.

Development director Arsene Wenger’s full-tilt rush towards a binding decision is also off the table. Instead December 20 will see the world federation stage an online summit of its 211 member associations to agree on how best to shuffle the pack across national team, international club and domestic demands.

The decision to hold a summit rather than a high-powered extraordinary congress was agreed by an online meeting of FIFA’s governing council. It followed a tetchy meeting on Tuesday at which European FAs left Infantino in no doubt about the strength of their opposition to meddling with the World Cup’s traditional four-year schedule.

Infantino: Living a dream?

FIFA was mandated to undertake a feasibility study by congress last spring but even the running of that has raised hackles. Europe, by far the richest of the six regional confederations, felt its pride offended by what it considered a lack of consultation across the political board.

Infantino, against the background of European hostility, portrayed himself at a post-council media briefing as a man of compromise, a moderator, a conciliator, seeking only what was best for the future of football in general, not merely the elite. The challenge, he said, was to ensure that future generations would also fall in love with football.

The price Europe will have to pay for its opposition has yet to be painted. It could be a FIFA World Nations League inbetween World Cups. Staging the Women’s World Cup every two years remains very firmly on the table.

Infantino said: “Everybody is equal [in FIFA]. We have 211 associations and they must all be listened to. My role is to listen to every side, to give a voice to those who are never heard, especially when we discuss the future of our game.

“Discussions around the new calendar have provoked some strong reactions. I’ve heard many critical and negative comments but also many enthusiastic comments. The debate has been completely different in different parts of the world and my task is to try to bring everyone together.”

Infantino suggested that the way in which ‘his’ FIFA had been “cleaned” after the FIFAGate corruption scandal should earn him and his opinions the respect of and acquiescence of the game.

He said: “This is a democratic debate for the benefit of the future, this is not about the World Cup but our children, how we take our responsibility as leaders of football seriously by looking to the future, to make sure our children and their children will fall in love with the game we all love.”

Infantino said that the global consultation needed to result in “a common viewpoint from everybody to work together for the good of the game.”

He added: “I’m confident that on December 20 we will be able to present a common solution. Everything is open. I understand it is difficult for people to change even things that have existed for the last 100 years and I am calling on everyone to be calm and rational then I hope we can present a joint position.

“We will work hard to reach this position.”