Football risks losing its appeal, we must rethink the way it is structured: FIFA chief Gianni Infantino

NEW DELHI: Football risks losing its global appeal in the face of myriad challenges posed by a technology-driven and changing world, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has warned.
To retain its hold over billions of fans, the world sport, or the spectator’s sport, must embrace new ideas and innovations going forward, one of which appears to be the contentious proposal to organise the men’s and women’s World Cups biennially.
Infantino made it clear that his organisation — a behemoth in the world of sports — is not solely guided by revenue.
After attending the FIFA Council meeting on Wednesday, Infantino spoke on a range of issues including the game’s socio-economic impact across the world, and how the body has become more inclusive now.
“We must take responsibility to ensure that our children and their children will continue to fall in love with our game. Football is risking to lose its appeal and that is why this process of giving everyone the possibility to express themselves is so important for us,” Infantino said after the FIFA Council in a virtual press conference.
“We are here to guide football, sort the international match calendar dis-balance between national team games and club games which has changed a lot in last couple of decades.
“We are looking for a common viewpoint from everybody. We must rethink the way in which global football is structured. We have to organise more meaningful tournaments for fans without adding financial motivation but sporting motivation… we are speaking about football, not about revenues.”
The FIFA boss though admitted that revenue, side by side, is equally important for the game’s sustenance.
Following a request by FIFA’s member associations to carry out a feasibility study to explore the possible impact of holding the World Cup every two years instead of four, the apex body has been engaged in extensive consultation process with all stakeholders.
Among other things, the consultation process has focused on addressing international match calendar issues for both women’s and men’s football, coming out with proposals for youth tournaments, besides issues concerning players’ health and well-being.
“We are going to change things completely only if it’s beneficial to everybody and if that is the case, than I don’t see why it should be a problem,” Infantino said.
“(Through) the feasibility study (that) we have started this time we wanted to reverse the process, starting with the football side and not finance. 166 associations have voted in favour of having the feasibility study including the Europeans (who have raised strong objections to the biennial World Cup proposal).”
The FIFA chief added, “We would go ahead only if everyone is better off.”
On the issues facing the sport, Infantino is hopeful of reaching a “global consensus”.
To discuss the future of the sport and the challenges facing it, a global summit has been scheduled on December 20. There is a possibility of FIFA issuing an update on its World Cup proposals during that summit.
“We are not only thinking economically but also sportingly. I think there is chance to come to a global consensus. This is my objective, my task. It’s not always easy to be president of FIFA, especially in this particular context.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.