Infantino: Change World Cup cycle so that ‘Africans don’t have to cross Mediterranean’

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has again spoken out in favor of a biennial World Cup to make global football less Eurocentric.

In doing so, he appeared to link his plans to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.It is no secret that Gianni Infantino would like to see football’s World Cup held every two years rather than every four years, a position the FIFA president reiterated in front of the European Council in Strasbourg on Wednesday.”We see that football is developing in a direction in which a few have everything and the vast majority have nothing,” said the 51-year-old.

In Europe, the World Cup [effectively] takes place twice a week because the best players in the world play in Europe, so Europe has no need for additional events.”But we can’t just tell the rest of the world: ‘give us your money and your players and you can watch on television.’

We have to include them.”Infantino: ‘We have to give Africans hope’Infantino then appeared to link to supposed economic benefits of a biennial World Cup for developing countries to the ongoing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean:”We have to give the Africans hope that they don’t have to cross the Mediterranean to perhaps find a better life here, but more likely death in the sea,”

he said, Thousands of people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in recent years, with the Missing Migrants Project recording 23,383 missing migrants since 2014 (as of January 2022).

Infantino’s FIFA is embroiled in a war of words with European football’s governing body UEFA and South America’s CONMEBOL over the future structure of the global football calendar.

While UEFA and CONMEBOL are opposed to a biennial World Cup due to concerns over an already packed schedule and a potential threat to their own continental tournaments, Infantino knows that more and bigger FIFA World Cups would increase the chances of participation and hosting rights for smaller nations whose votes he relies on in the FIFA Congress.Infantino later insisted that “certain remarks” had been “taken out of context.

In a FIFA statement, he reiterated that “the key message in my speech was that everyone in a decision-making position has the responsibility to contribute to the improvement of living standards across the world.” He said he had made “a general comment” which was not directly linked to plans for a biennial World Cup.

Infantino defends Qatar’s human rights recordAs for the next World Cup in Qatar this November, Infantino defended the host nation’s much-criticized human rights record, claiming that reports of 6,500 dead migrant workers in the host nation are “simply not true,” and suggesting instead that there had only been three such deaths connected to the World Cup.

However, according to Nicholas McGeehan, former senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and founding director of FairSquare, the figure of three deaths relates to what Qatar itself classifies as “work-related deaths” on projects which account for just 1% of total construction work in the country, much of which is geared towards the World Cup.

Earlier this month, Swiss newspaper Blick revealed that Infantino was living in Doha, Qatar, where he is renting a house and where two of his four daughters are attending school.

FIFA confirmed: As communicated in October 2021, the FIFA President informed the FIFA Council that he would divide his presence between Zurich, Doha and across the world, in order to deliver his presidential duties and be closer to the FIFA World Cup.

“As he did during the FIFA Arab Cup, he will work alongside other FIFA staff in our office in Doha, when required, until the conclusion of the tournament.For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Infantino has residency, and remains liable to pay taxes, in Switzerland.”Edited by: Jonathan Harding.

Source: AP News

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