Fifa is on a major collision course with European governing bodies after pressing ahead with money-spinning plots to increase the size of the Qatar World Cup and introduce a revamped global club tournament.
Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, defied prior warnings that he faced a near-impossible diplomatic job to find a neighbouring nation to share hosting duties in the Middle East as he said an initial feasibility study showed it was possible for 48 teams to compete in 2022. A vote on the plan to increase the tournament from its 32-team set-up will take place in Paris in June.
At a meeting of the ruling council in Miami yesterday, Fifa also ignored European opposition to its plan to reform the Club World Cup by voting to approve a new 24-team tournament starting in June 2021. Infantino wants Europe to provide eight of the 24 teams, with six coming from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North and Central America and one from Oceania, and it is suggested that each club could earn £50million for taking part.
However the tournament may well end up being launched without representation from Europe. The European Club Association, which represents 232 of the continent’s leading sides, Uefa and the world players’ union FIFPro are all unhappy with what they claim is a lack of consultation in regards to the congested global calendar and Infantino’s financial plans for the new tournament.