April 8 – Gianni Infantino has upped the ante once again in his bid to gain global support for his controversial plan to change the landscape of club world football as well as expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams.
Infantino, who three years ago took on and beat Asian football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa for the FIFA presidency, used the occasion of Salman’s regional re-election to heap praise on the man he once opposed and re-iterate how his plans, much derided in Europe, would be good for Asia.
FIFA have put off a decision on Infantino’s blueprint until June but Infantino is using every opportunity to bang the drum for his pet project.
“It will be a nice achievement if the first World Cup with 48 teams is played in Asia,” Infantino told last weekend’s Asian Football Confederation congress,
“Sharing a few games with a few of the neighbouring countries is, of course, an option as well to make it a true World Cup for the world and for the whole Gulf region.”
As for turning the Club World Cup into a 24-team tournament from 2021, he deliberately made the point of reminding delegates that Asia would have three representatives.
“I witnessed the final of the Asian Champions League in Tehran and there are clubs of great tradition in Asia and it’s important we foster them and it’s important we give them the possibility to shine on the world stage,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to continue to develop our competitions, for example, with the new Club World Cup.”
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