Infantino talks up CWC over breakaway as Ceferin unopposed for Uefa election
Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, has claimed that a proposed expanded version of the Club World Cup would be preferable to a breakaway European Super League, as it would benefit the international soccer family as a whole.
Infantino (pictured, right) also said that any players participating in an unofficial Super League would be banned from the World Cup and other international tournaments.
Aleksander Ceferin (left), the president of Uefa, has already reiterated his opposition to a breakaway competition after reports that a group of Europe’s top clubs have held negotiations on the subject.
Ceferin is set to serve a further two-year term after it was confirmed today that he will be the sole candidate in elections scheduled for next February.
Last week, citing leaked documents obtained by the Football Leaks website, German magazine Der Spiegel alleged that 11 leading clubs could sign a “binding team sheet” committing themselves to a 16-team European Super League, with no relegation for the founding members, starting in 2021.
However, none of the named clubs have confirmed their involvement in the project, and Infantino, the former Uefa general secretary, stressed that participating players would be jeopardising their involvement in major competitions in the future.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, the Swiss official said: “You are either in or you are out. If there are players who don’t play organised football then that encompasses everything – national leagues, confederation competitions, the Euros and the World Cup.”
The prospect of a club-led European Super League has raised its head on several occasions over the last two decades, but Uefa has been able to keep the leading teams on board through tweaks to the Champions League, with the major markets of England, Spain, Germany and Italy now all guaranteed four clubs each in the 32-team competition.
Infantino argued that governing bodies need to be proactive, saying: “We have seen for many years these attempts to break away outside of the structures, going back to the 1990s. It is up to us to protect football and come up with solutions that benefit clubs and also the world football community.”
He added that his controversial plan for an enlarged Club World Cup would be an antidote, saying: “If clubs organise a breakaway Super League, who benefits? If Fifa organises a Club World Cup, Uefa continues to organise the Champions League and the Premier League continues to organise the Premier League then the clubs benefit but also 211 member associations.”
A Fifa taskforce has been appointed to explore the options for a Club World Cup larger than the present seven-team edition, and a global Nations League, and is set to report back at a Council meeting next March.
The deadline for candidates in the Uefa presidential election, to take place at the Congress in Rome in February, passed on Wednesday, with no challengers to Ceferin.
The Slovenian official was elected in September 2016, to complete the four-year term of Michel Platini, after the Frenchman was banned from soccer by Fifa for misconduct.
Meanwhile, Sandor Csanyi of Hungary will stand unopposed for re-election as a Fifa vice-president, as will Reinhard Grindel of Germany for an ordinary member position on the Fifa Council, for a four-year term.
Fernando Gomes of Portugal and Georgios Koumas of Cyprus are the two candidates for two ordinary members positions on the Fifa Council, for two-year terms.
However, there will be a contested election for the Fifa vice-president position reserved for the British home nations, with Greg Clarke of England and David Martin of Northern Ireland looking to succeed David Gill, also of England.
The deadline for the submission of candidatures for seats on the Uefa executive committee, with eight members to be elected for four-year terms, is 7 December.
Meanwhile, Infantino has admitted that matches could be played simultaneously if the 2022 Fifa World Cup is expanded from 32 to 48 teams, and from 64 to 80 fixtures.
The Fifa president is supporting a proposal to bring forward the enlargement of the competition from 2026, and stage some matches in countries surrounding the appointed host Qatar.
The tournament has already been rescheduled from June and July to November and December to avoid the hot summer temperatures in the Middle East.
Infantino said on Thursday: “We have to see if we can make it fit into the current schedule, we cannot make it longer, 48 teams in the same number of days. It is not ideal, it would entail to have matches simultaneously. We will have to [compare] that with the positive impact this has in those countries that qualify.”