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Re-elected Infantino Advocates ‘Way More’ Football

Re-elected Infantino Advocates ‘Way More’ Football

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has said that there is a need for “way more” football after being re-elected until 2027.

World football’s governing body this week announced an expanded 2026 World Cup and unveiled a new 32-team Club World Cup.

But the expansion of the football calendar has been criticised by player unions and La Liga.

“When I hear there is too much football, yes, maybe in some places, but not everywhere,” said Infantino.

“In fact, in most parts of the world there is not enough football played.

“We need way more and not less competitions, we want football to develop worldwide.

“We are discussing organising a women’s Club World Cup and a FIFA World Series in March every two years, when teams are free from playing qualifiers.”

The 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada, will see the number of teams increase from 32 to 48.

The tournament will have 104 matches rather than a projected 80, after FIFA changed a proposed format of 16 three-team groups to 12 groups of four.

There will also be a new last-32 round and countries will have to play eight matches to win the tournament, compared to seven at the 2022 World Cup.

The 32-team Club World Cup will take place every four years from June 2025.

Players union Fifpro and the Professional Footballers’ Association have raised concerns about the demands on players, while La Liga said FIFA’s plans showed a “complete disregard” for the football community.

Infantino, who was re-elected at the 73rd FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday, also discussed the possibility of bringing a salary cap into football.

“We must improve our regulations and the FIFA statutes,” he said.

“We will continue to evolve our good governance principles and look at the transfer system, and maybe have a discussion to improve transparency of transfer fees and salaries.

“It might be necessary to introduce a cap, we have to think how we can do that. We will look at it with all stakeholders and see what we can do.”

Speaking about the women’s game in his closing remarks, Infantino also said the total prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be $150m (£124.3m) compared to $15m (£12.4m) in 2015.

Last year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar had a total prize fund of $440m (£364.7m).

“Our mission will be able to have equality in payments for 2026 men’s and 2027 women’s World Cups,” Infantino said.

The 52-year-old succeeded Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in 2016, retaining the role in 2019 and has been re-elected unopposed for another four-year term.

During Infantino’s time in charge, FIFA has looked into staging the World Cup every two years in a concept that has faced criticism from federations, leagues and players.

There was also controversy at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when the build up to the tournament was dominated by the country’s treatment of migrant workers, along with its stance on same-sex relationships and its human rights record.

A number of European nations planned to wear a OneLove armband during matches to promote diversity and inclusion but did not do so because of possible sanctions from FIFA.

“It is an incredible honour and privilege, and a great responsibility,” said Infantino following his re-election.

“I promise to continue serving FIFA and football around the world.

“To those that love me, and I know there are many, and those who hate me … I love you all.”

The congress also included a video address by Michael Llamas, chairperson of the FIFA sub-committee on human rights and social responsibility, who said FIFA was committed to assessing the human rights legacy of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Human rights organisations claimed thousands of migrant workers had died in Qatar since the country was awarded the World Cup but Qatari authorities denied this, and stressed the country was making labour reforms.

Lisa Klaveness, the head of the Norwegian Football Association, who led the calls for FIFA to address the issue, welcomed the pledge as a first step in the process.

“The most important thing with Mr Llamas’ statement today was that he did not put human rights up against football, he did not say ‘we are not the Red Cross’,” Klaveness told BBC Sport.

“He established human rights as something fundamental that should be embedded in everything we do. Of course then you have to walk the walk but it was very important that he talked the talk today.”

Human rights organisation Amnesty International welcomed FIFA’s pledge but said workers had “already waited far too long for justice”.

“Any review must focus on exactly how FIFA will ensure that workers and their families are compensated for the abuses they suffered — including illegal recruitment fees that have been paid, wages that were stolen and lives that have been lost — rather than whether they intend to do so at all,” said Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice Steve Cockburn.

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