A World Cup from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026, a Club World Cup with 24 clubs in 2021, a reform of the transfer market, an increase in financial aid to the associations… Infantino, 49, continues to idealize the football of the future since it happened on February 26, 2016 Joseph Blatter, after the biggest scandal in the history of FIFA.
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“Infantino has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve, he is a man of projects”, analyzed a regular member of FIFA meetings in Zurich.
“But sometimes, your projects are extremely disturbing. In addition, he has a way of proceeding that does not generate unanimity, since he goes on to publicly expose his ideas ”, added this world football director.
A clear example of this was Infantino’s plan to make Qatar host the 2022 World Cup together with neighboring countries, despite strong geopolitical conflicts in the region. A plan that ended up being discarded.
“It was a good idea, but it didn’t work out, while he forcibly advanced his project of a Club World Cup with 24 teams, despite UEFA’s opposition,” added this expert.
Faced with the growing influence of the richest clubs in the world, who want to reshape the Champions League for their greatest benefit, Infantino, an authentic chess player, moves his pawns over the board of a world in which politics and egos are important pieces .
The Swiss-Italian leader was re-elected without opposition last year, but his projects are far from consensus.
For example, they provoked resistance from Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA president, and from Paraguayan Alejandro Domínguez, president of Conmebol, who recently met to study an alliance against FIFA.
The African Football Confederation (CAF) and its president, the Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, accused of being under strict financial management, have just opposed FIFA’s tutelage by failing to extend the mandate of Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s general secretary and who oversaw CAF for six months.
“All blows are allowed. Nobody gives anything away for free and relations are strained, ”confirmed Raffaele Poli, who runs the Football Observatory at the Sport Study Center (Cies) in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
‘Ambition at all levels’
“There is an ambition at all levels of football, with this desire to extract a maximum amount of money that seems to me to be the rationality of football at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. Clubs’ appetites are voracious. The federations and confederations, which must give guarantees, are under pressure for this unique thought in money ”, said Poli.
According to several observers, Infantino aims to promote a unique format of world football, with closed and private leagues, following the model of sports championships in the United States. “Infantino’s stance may allow certain prerogatives to be maintained by FIFA,” explained Poli.
For example, the transfer system that Infantino wants to reform, increasing the indemnities for the forming clubs. “If we followed the model of the NBA (American basketball league) it would be the end of the compensation between clubs, but we are moving more towards reinforcement, which is a guarantee”, continued the expert of Cies.
Another football official was less benevolent with Infantino’s ambitions. “It is an imposition. On governance, to take power and promote reforms, he appointed a weak general secretary (Samoura). By appointing a ‘director of independent commissions’ (the Italian Mario Gallavotti), he completely ended the independence of the ethics committee that had been suspended by his predecessor, ”criticized this source.
“Infantino also promised greater control over the destination of economic aid for the confederations, however we see in Africa that these controls are less stringent than before,” continued this leader, saying that the FIFA president exercises “a form of autocracy from which the confederations already got tired ”.
With all these clashes, Infantino could live a second, more agitated term, but the fact that he “awarded the 2026 World Cup to the United States (together with Canada and Mexico) was a truce,” said Poli.
“And if your projects, like the Club World Cup, work, it will come out even stronger”, he concluded.