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Infantino faces dissent on appeal with European football leaders

If Gianni Infantino had any doubts about how controversial his reign of world football has become, it was revealed to the FIFA president during an hour-long video call with leaders of the European federations.

Trying to convince UEFA members to back his biennial World Cup plans, Infantino instead faced a torrent of criticism in a recording obtained by the Associated Press.

“We trusted you to create an organization that transcends divisions and brings unity,” said Infantino Razvan Burleanu, president of the Romanian Football Federation which sits on the FIFA Council.

Fernando Gomes, the president of the Portuguese federation, reminded Infantino that it was Europe that helped to elevate him so unexpectedly from the post of UEFA general secretary to the FIFA presidency in 2016. Now, Gomes said, Infantino was ignoring Europe’s concerns about damage to the game that would be caused by the planned overhaul of the football calendar.

Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina told Infantino he was “very worried” by the plans and said they appeared to be opposed by Serie A coaches and players.

“Football doesn’t need extra tension but does require a course that offers a sense of more stability and improved durability,” Gravina said.

FIFA’s proposal calls for a tournament every offseason, rather than having a World Cup and European Championship each in the current four-year cycle. Rather than having match windows in September, October, November and March for men’s international matches, the plan calls for a one-month block of matches around October and November for qualifying tournaments.

“We do not see any advantage,” Swiss federation president Dominique Blanc told Infantino.

The PA reported on Tuesday that more than a dozen European countries have told UEFA they will consider leaving FIFA during the biennial World Cups. The six Nordic nations seem to be leaning in this direction.

“If a majority in FIFA decides to adopt the biennial world cup proposal,” Finnish federation president Ari Lahti told Infantino, “Nordic football associations will have to consider other actions and scenarios closer to our core values ​​that what the current FIFA proposes represents. ” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has already suggested that Europe could boycott the World Cup if Infantino ends the current quadrennial format.

“I seriously ask you and FIFA not to press for a vote as it could have terrible consequences for football,” Ceferin told Infantino.

“I don’t think it would be wise to go and vote on an issue like this,” Ceferin said.

“Not only because there will be serious consequences that we will have to take, but also because stakeholders like clubs and leagues do not have the right to vote and this idea is detrimental to their existence. could pull out of the project he largely left to be presented by FIFA chief football development chief Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager.

“As far as I’m concerned, we won’t go ahead with a proposal if someone were to be injured,” Infantino said.

The next day, Wednesday, came an indication of the success of UEFA’s resistance when Infantino announced that there would only be a summit of the 211 FIFA member nations rather than an additional congress to officially vote on. the biennial World Cups scheduled for men and women.

In UEFA’s call on Tuesday, no country came out in favor of the plans. The Spanish federation also took the floor to scrutinize the Infantino project. Opponents also cited the impact on player well-being of having more frequent tournaments and the potential damage to the growing profile of women’s football by having more men’s competitions.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell has underlined the lack of consideration for the lifeblood of sport – national club matches – in FIFA’s vision. Maxwell also asked Infantino to consider “the potential impact on sponsorship and the potential impact on spectator attendance with a one-month international window.” It seemed Infantino was so pissed off that he ended up giving credit to a suggestion that would undermine the revolution he is championing. Tiago Craveiro, the secretary general of the Portuguese federation, has proposed that FIFA explore the possibility of not allowing teams to compete in consecutive editions if it puts forward the biennial World Cups.

“I also welcome Thiago’s idea of ​​saying, well, we need more participation and maybe there is a way to do that by having two World Cups, but not with the same participating teams. “said Infantino.

“I don’t know. It’s something the techs are going to look into, but it’s definitely something we need to look into.” Rarely does the FIFA president face such prolonged dissent in the face of such a large audience? But Infantino has touted the overhaul of world football as necessary to safeguard the future of the sport.

“I also believe that the enemy of football is not the World Cup or the FIFA, but these are other activities that young boys and girls run today,” Infantino said in his address. fencing. “And we have to see how jointly and together we can bring them back to take an interest in football. And we want, as far as I’m concerned, to do it all together as we have always done in recent years.” Infantino did not. not specified what these “other activities” were.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)