FIFA boss looking at soccer reform after coronavirus crisis - GulfToday

FIFA boss looking at soccer reform after coronavirus crisis


Slutsk’s Roman Krivulkin in action with Slavia-Mozyr’s Igor Costrov during their Belarus League match on Sunday. Reuters

FIFA president Gianni Infantino believes the global coronavirus crisis could bring about a reform of football which he does not expect to return to action by May.

“Without panic, let’s face it, we will play when we can without endangering anyone’s health,” the head of world football said.

“Health first. Then everything else. And the rest, for managers, means hoping for the best but also preparing for the worst.”

World football has been thrown into turmoil by the pandemic which has killed 15,000 and confined more than a billion people ot their homes.

The Euro 2020 and Copa America tournaments have already been pushed back while uncertainty remains over the inaugural 24-team Club World Cup from 2021.

“We need an assessment of the global economic impact,” the 50-year-old Swiss told Monday’s edition of Gazzetta Dello Sport.

“We don’t know when things will return to normal. But let’s look at the opportunities. We can perhaps reform world football by taking a step back.

“With different formats. Fewer tournaments, maybe fewer teams, but more balanced.

“Fewer games to protect the health of the players. It’s not science fiction, let’s talk about it.

“Let’s quantify the damage, see how to cover it, make sacrifices and let’s start again.

“Not from scratch. But let’s all save football together from a crisis that risks being irreversible.”

Infantino revealed he was working on temporary derogations on footballers’ contracts to avoid the June 30 deadline.

“Now let’s think about the national team calendar, and about temporary changes and dispensations for the regulations on the status of players and transfers.

“To protect contracts and adapt registration periods. Tough measures are needed tough. But there is no choice. We will all have to make sacrifices.”

Infantino, meanwhile, dismissed talk of a planned European Super League for the top clubs.

“It makes me laugh,” he said. “And what else? From what I see, others are already planning and organising tournaments around the world, outside the institutional structures, and without respect for how domestic, continental and world football are organised.

“In the future we must have at least 50 national teams that can win the World Cup, not just eight European and two South American ones.

“And 50 clubs that can win the Club World Cup, not just five or six European ones. And twenty of these 50 will be Europeans, which seems to me better than today’s five or six. But this is not the time to talk about it now.”

Earlier, FIFA confirmed the postponement of the new Club World Cup as it pledged to take a series of “exceptional measures” to protect football in the face of the coronavirus crisis, including a possible support fund for financially stricken clubs and associations.

World football’s governing body accepted it would not play the new 24-team Club World Cup in June and July of 2021 after it was announced on Tuesday that the European Championship and Copa America would both be moved to that period.

The two tournaments were postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Infantino had already said in advance of a meeting with the heads of the six continental ruling bodies on Wednesday that he would propose putting back the Club World Cup to later in 2021, or even to 2022 or 2023.

In the end, a statement released by FIFA simply said new dates for the highly lucrative tournament would be decided “at a later stage”.

FIFA were seemingly left with little choice after Aleksander Ceferin, the president of the European game’s governing body UEFA, said he had told Infantino on Tuesday “that the Club World Cup...cannot happen” in 2021 having postponed the Euro by a year. Ceferin did not indicate there was any offer of a compromise.

Ceferin has been critical of Infantino’s Club World Cup plans, and UEFA and South American governing body CONMEBOL agreed together to put their continental competitions back by a year, having recently signed a cooperation agreement.

Meanwhile, FIFA announced the creation of a working group to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, including on players’ contracts and transfers and to deal with the economic impact on the game.

“This exceptional situation requires exceptional measures and decisions. This crisis impacts the entire world and that is why solutions need to take into account the interests of all stakeholders around the world,” said Infantino.


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