Cape Town - FIFA President Gianni Infantino is doubling
down on his Club World Cup plans with a proposal for an expanded annual
tournament despite European soccer's resistance to any competition that
challenges the supremacy of the UEFA Champions League, a person with knowledge
of the talks told The Associated Press.
The revised proposal amends an initial plan
to play 24-team Club World Cup every four years. The new format will be
discussed at the FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda on Friday, the person said on
condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential.
UEFA has stymied Infantino's attempts since
March to gain approval for the new FIFA competitions, which would have $25
billion of income guaranteed by an international consortium including Japan's
The proposals, which include a global
Nations League as a mini-World Cup every two years, were formed by FIFA to
eliminate two little-regarded competitions: the current annual seven-team Club
World Cup held in December and the Confederations Cup for international teams
held every four years. The proposal only covers men's soccer and does not
include new competitions women.
The original plan sent to FIFA Council
members in April said a 24-team Club World Cup would be worth at least $3
billion for each edition, played in June-July every fourth year from 2021
through 2033. Half the slots would be taken by European clubs, ensuring the
competition could weaken the status of the UEFA-run Champions League.
But discussions in recent months with
global soccer leaders have encouraged FIFA to propose keeping the annual format
but with more teams, said the person, who added that Infantino favoured a
July-August event, but he is open to another slot. Playing in the northern
hemisphere summer would pose a threat to the annual preseason friendly
tournament for Europe's leading clubs which is organized by Relevent Sports, a
company controlled by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
While Infantino has convinced some teams to
back his plans in public, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, the umbrella
European Club Association has called for the workload on players to be reduced
rather than increased.
Infantino won't use the meeting in Kigali
to gain approval for the final configuration of competition formats but he
wants to secure agreement on the principle that the existing Club World Cup and
Confederations Cup need to be replaced, the person said. FIFA would then spend
the coming months consulting further on the formats.
Infantino is pressing ahead with trying to
implement the biggest revamp of soccer tournaments this century after gaining
support from the regional confederations apart from UEFA, the person said. FIFA
would have a 51 percent stake in the joint venture with the investors.