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Biennial World Cup and Human Rights: Infantino seeks appeasement and re-election at FIFA

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Faced with a very divided world of football, the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, was conciliatory this Thursday, the day on which he announced that he will aspire to a third term in 2023, in which he backed down on the project of a biennial World Cup and in which he highlighted Qatar’s “progress” on human rights ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

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Taking advantage of the organization’s Congress in Doha, on the eve of the draw for the final phase of the tournament (November 21-December 18), the Italian-Swiss leader addressed some sensitive issues, starting with the idea that the World Cup, the jewel in the crown, will be played every two years instead of every four.

“Let me be very clear: FIFA has never proposed a biennial World Cup,” Infantino said from the Congress rostrum, which had not included that issue on the agenda.

He stressed that what his organization is doing is to carry out a study on the “feasibility” of the project and the impact it would generate.

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UEFA (Europe) and Conmebol (South America) led the opposition to a biennial World Cup, along with club or fan associations, which seems to have forced Infantino to take a step back and adopt a conciliatory tone for the reforms. of the international calendar from 2024.

Infantino, in office since 2016, closed the 72nd Congress by making his candidacy official for a new term in 2023, which would be the third and last. He received applause after the announcement of him.

For now there are no compelling rivals for him in that presidential race.

record revenue

The leader has in his favor the economic balance. FIFA forecasts a record turnover of US $ 7,000 million (6,300 million euros) in the four-year cycle that ends in 2022, that is, more than expected.

On the calendar for the future, parked the biennial World Cup, Infantino only mentioned this Thursday that the Club World Cup, which FIFA wanted to expand to 24 clubs, will be part of the talks.

There are those who speak of a return of the Confederations Cup, a mini-tournament with eight teams played in 1992 and 2019, or an extension to the South American teams of the League of Nations, created in 2018 by UEFA.

Eight months before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the FIFA boss also had to deal with controversies over the rights of women or LGBT people, or over controversies over the situation of migrant workers on construction sites in the emirate.

“Injured migrant workers or the families of those who died in preparation for the World Cup must be taken into account,” said Lise Klaveness, president of the Norwegian Football Federation, in a fiery speech.

Qatar, “exemplary” according to Infantino

Insisting on the “progress” of Qatar in the field of Human Rights, Infantino pointed out that the work carried out by the country in this matter was “exemplary”.

“Of course, not everything is perfect, of course it is not paradise, but no country is paradise,” he said.

Since 2016, the emirate has abolished “kafala”, the patronage system that made wage earners totally dependent on their employers, and in 2020 introduced a minimum wage of US$1.30 an hour. The Qatari authorities insist that they have made more progress in this regard than any other country in the area.

Infantino also called for “dialogue” to end the conflict in Ukraine and recalled that FIFA was firm in excluding the Russian team from the race for the 2022 World Cup. “It was not an easy decision, but it had to be made,” he said.

Some voices, such as the Ukrainian ambassador to Qatar Andrii Kuzmenko, present at the Congress, asked to exclude the Russian Football Federation from FIFA.

The Russian Alexey Sorokin, asked about the subject, responded to that request: “What does Russian football have to do with all this? What has Russian football done wrong?” This former member of the FIFA Council defended himself.

The situation of the delegates in the room was made in alphabetical order, which left Russians and Ukrainians separated by several rows of distance.

Source: Gestion

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