FIFA face dissent over biennial WC plans
If Gianni Infantino was in any doubt how divisive his rule of world football has become, it was revealed to the FIFA president during an hour-long video call with leaders of European federations.
Trying to convince UEFA members to back his plans for biennial World Cups rather than one per four-year cycle, Infantino instead faced a torrent of criticism in a recording obtained by The Associated Press.
Rather than there being match windows in September, October, November and March for men's international games, the plan is for one month-long block of games around October and November for tournament qualifiers.
The AP reported on Tuesday that more than a dozen European nations told UEFA they would consider quitting FIFA over biennial World Cups.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has already suggested Europe could boycott the World Cup if Infantino pushed ahead with the ending the current quadrennial format.
"I'm seriously seriously asking you and FIFA not to push for a vote because that could have terrible consequences for football," Ceferin told Infantino.
"I don't think it would be wise to go for a vote on a matter like that," Ceferin said.
"Not just because there will be severe consequences that we will have to take but also because the stakeholders like clubs and leagues don't have a voting right and this idea is detrimental to their existence."
Fernando Gomes, the president of the Portuguese federation, reminded Infantino it was Europe that helped to elevate him so unexpectedly from the position of UEFA general secretary to the FIFA presidency in 2016.
Now, Gomes said, Infantino was overlooking the concerns of Europe about the damage to the game that would be caused by the envisaged overhaul of the football calendar.
Italian FA President Gabriele Gravina told Infantino he was "very worried" by the plans and said they seem to be opposed by the coaches and players across Serie A.
Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc was more blunt.
"We don't see any benefit," he told Infantino.
Infantino noted the debate had been "heated" but said that it was a sign of change within FIFA that such a wide-ranging consultation was being held.
During Tuesday's UEFA call, no country spoke in favour of the plans.
On Wednesday, came an indication of the success of UEFA's resistance when Infantino announced there would only be a summit of the 211 FIFA member nations rather than an extra congress to formally vote on the planned biennial World Cups for men and women.
"We have to see how we can approach the different opinions of different parties," Infantino said.
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