Gianni Infantino set to continue as Fifa supremo

By Paul Myers - RFI
MAR 16, 2023 LISTEN

Gianni Infantino, the most powerful administrator in football, is set to be handed another four-year term as president of the world game's governing body Fifa.

Infantino, 52, took over as boss in 2016 from Sepp Blatter after the veteran Swiss supremo was submerged by a flood of allegations of corruptions.

He was re-elected in June 2019 for a second term as president and he will be the only candidate in Thursday's presidential election at the Fifa congress in Rwanda.

On Tuesday, Infantino's brainchild – a World Cup of 48 teams – was officially anointed. It will be launched at the 2026 tournament in Mexico, Canada and the United States.


Twelve groups of four teams will contest the group stages and a new last-32 knockout round will emerge comprising the winners and runners-up of the 12 groups as well as the eight best third-paced teams.

In total, 104 matches – 40 more than the 32-team World Cup in Qatar – will be played over five weeks in June and July 2026.

The expansion will mean more cash for for poorer member associations, who will each receive a minimum of 8 million euros between 2023 and 2026.

Fifa announced in December that its projected revenue would rise to around 11 billion euros over the next three years, a jump from the 7.5 billion euros it raked in the previous three-year cycle up to 2022.


That influx has masked to some degree the controversies around Infantino's stewardship especially the Qatar World Cup.

Infantino was at pains to defend Qatar's treatment of migrant labour, its approach to LGBT rights and Fifa's threats to penalise players for political statements during the month-long competition. 

The Norwegian football federation has tabled a proposal to discuss whether Fifa has fulfilled its responsibility to remedy issues related to the 2022 World Cup, including an investigation into World Cup-related deaths and injuries.

Fifa bosses have spoken about setting up a legacy fund to assist and compensate migrant workers who helped build the stadiums and other infrastructure for the World Cup. But no plans have been revealed.


On the eve of Infantino's coronation, organisers of the Spanish top flight launched a broadside accusing him of complete disregard for the football community with his plans for an expanded Club World Cup.

"Fifa continues its malpractice of making unilateral decisions on the world football calendar," said the La Liga statement.

Representatives of players union Fifpro and the Professional Footballers' Association have also hit out at Fifa's plans for the 32-team Club World Cup, which will take place every four years from June 2025. The current annual seven team tournament will end in 2023.


The La Liga statement said: "Fifa is showing complete disregard for the importance of national championships, and the football community in general.

"Fifa completely neglects the economic damage these decisions inflict on leagues around the world. Leagues were not consulted about any of the changes presented.

"These decisions do not take into account the competitive, sporting and economic impact on national leagues, clubs and players, by further cramming an already overloaded schedule. Fifa only takes into account a small group of clubs and players."

La Liga said it would analyse Fifa's plans with the World Leagues Forum, an organisation representing professional association football leagues.

In December, the WLF criticised proposals for a 32-team Club World Cup. It said the expansion could have damaging consequences for the football economy and player welfare.