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Defiant Infantino to keep pushing his reforms agenda

Gianni Infantino

Bengaluru, October 26: FIFA President Gianni Infantino who has drawn a lof of flak for his proposed reforms said he will keep pushing for support of new competitions despite Europe's opposition as he feels it is his duty to protect the "relevance of football."

Infantino revealed other investors are interested in backing a revamped Club World Cup and a new worldwide Nations League.

So far, only a consortium featuring Japan's SoftBank that has offered 25 billion in guaranteed revenue has been identified.

But European football's federation remains a thorn in the side of Infantino, who wants council members to agree in principle to replace competitions that lack commercial appeal. UEFA clubs are opposed to adding more games to their schedule, especially any that threaten the popular Champions League.

"I really think we have to think out of the box to think about new models to preserve football and the relevance of football and the structure of football," Infantino was quoted as saying in an interview with The Associated Press news agency.

"I don't think there is anything that dramatic or wrong to discuss about competitions, to discuss about how to commercialise these competitions," he said.

"I don't understand this hype."

As successor to Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president of 17 years, Infantino said he is championing "modern ways" in the world's most popular sport.

That includes scrapping the Club World Cup in its current, unappealing annual seven-team format and the Confederations Cup, which is a little-regarded World Cup warmup tournament.

Backs women's cause

Meanwhile, the FIFA chief understands why female footballers are unhappy about the lack of gender equality in World Cup prize money but said that doubling the cash for finalists to USD 30 million represents significant progress.

Ahead of the FIFA Council ratifying the financial package for the 2019 Women's World Cup, players unions in Australia, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand wrote to the game's global governing body body to raise concerns about why there is more vastly more cash set aside for the men's showpiece.

"Critical comments are perfectly justified because ... the unions and the players they defend their own interests which is a fair point," Infantino said.

"We need to try to find what is the most balanced way and I think we made a step and there will be many more steps going ahead. Maybe one day women's football will generate more than men's football."

For now, the men's World Cup now generates most of FIFA's billion income and that is reflected in the prize money.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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Story first published: Friday, October 26, 2018, 13:27 [IST]
Other articles published on Oct 26, 2018
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