If you thought Sepp Blatter was the devil incarnate and his ousting was the best thing for football, then sadly think again. FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, the man who was supposed to clean up the governing body’s mess and act in the game’s best interests has once more taken the decision to follow the money.
FIFA last Friday announced plans to expand the Club World Cup to a 24-team contest, starting from June 2021. The European elite are understandably furious — not that they would pass up an opportunity to boost their balance, but because they weren’t kept in the loop over the decision. FIFPro, the world’s player union, weren’t happy either and rightly so: when exactly will footballers have time to rest? While I’m sure many would enjoy a genuine World Cup for clubs, how much football is too much and where would the expansion end?
Infantino, who described himself as a “very happy man” in seeing his Club World Cup vision backed, has also explored the possibility of expanding the World Cup from a 32-team tournament to 48 in time for Qatar 2022. The addition of 16 teams will happen in 2026 when the competition heads to North America, but change could happen earlier than FIFA imagined. Infantino is lobbing for a bigger tournament in a country smaller than the greater Sydney region and its football heritage is about as reputable as Katie Price’s singing career. Qatar are not exactly thrilled with proposals for expansion, but in the end if that is what FIFA decide, FIFA will make it happen. Following the money led them to stage a World Cup in the gulf and it won’t stop them from creating bigger tournaments to maximise revenue.