FIFA’s campaign to gain approval in December for holding World Cups every two years stalled on Wednesday, a day after its president met fierce resistance from European football leaders.
Instead, Gianni Infantino announced that FIFA would organize a remote “global summit” on December 20 to discuss the future of international football and “try to reach a consensus.”
That fell short of organizing an additional congress of 211 member associations that could formally vote on the planned biennial World Cups for men and women in which Infantino has invested his political capital and that of FIFA.
“It is really important to listen to all the legitimate questions … and see how we can adjust the proposals that have been made,” Infantino told a press conference after chairing a meeting of the FIFA Governing Council.
Infantino’s comment about exploring “what other types of events we can create” was yet another indication that hosting additional World Cups has not reached the broad agreement it seeks.
Sustained opposition from the European football body UEFA, including threats to boycott future World Cups and veiled warnings from some of its members to leave FIFA, was joined last weekend by a rare statement from the IOC explicitly criticizing a olympic sport.
The International Olympic Committee said FIFA was seeking additional revenue while removing other sports from the sports calendar, promoting men’s soccer that would overshadow women’s soccer and put additional pressure on the well-being of athletes.
“We have received some legitimate criticism,” Infantino acknowledged. “When you’re in the middle of all that, it’s a bit like a referee in a riot in a game.
“I’m just calling on everyone to be calm and rational about it,” he said.
Infantino has said that FIFA hosting a men’s or women’s World Cup every year is important to attract young fans, give more countries the opportunity to qualify, and fund development globally to bridge the gap in European and South American dominance. .
UEFA and the South American soccer body CONMEBOL have resisted the plans. They mentioned the risk of overloading players and upsetting the balance of the global soccer calendar, including national leagues and their own successful international competitions for national and club teams.
“Everyone has taken note of Europe’s position,” said Infantino, who had a heated online meeting on Tuesday with the leaders of UEFA and its 55 member associations.
The Europeans made it clear that the biennial World Cups were unacceptable, and a day later Infantino appeared to back down, insisting that FIFA should try to reach a consensus.
“We will see what this consensus will look like,” he said. “For me, everything is open. Maybe we will take a step forward and another step back. “