FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has controversially opined that a biennial world cup will prevent illegal immigration by giving African migrants ”hope.”
According to the football chief, proposed changes to football’s calendar might make Africans less likely to migrate to Europe and risk death in the Mediterranean Sea.
Speaking on Wednesday, January 26, in support of FIFA’s calendar reforms, which include plans for biennial World Cups, at the Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Infantino said the proposals were vital to give the football world outside of Europe hope.
‘We need to give hope to Africans so they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find, maybe, a better life but more probably death in the sea” Infantino said to the 47-nation Council.
‘We need to give opportunities and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate.’
But the Council concluded that biennial World Cups would be ‘disastrous’ for football in Europe.
Europe’s continental confederation UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues umbrella body have all rejected Infantino’s idea of a biennial world cup.
After Infantino’s remarks, the 47 nation Council said:
‘The Assembly questions the advisability of the plan currently under consideration by FIFA to hold the World Cup every two years.
‘It considers that such a change would have disastrous consequences for European football, which is why both UEFA and the European Leagues are strongly opposed to the project.
‘It could also harm the entire sports ecosystem by making the two main global sporting events – the World Cup and the Olympic Games – compete for media coverage and therefore also financial support.’
The council also called on FIFA ‘not to take decisions that are potentially detrimental to European football and sport worldwide without the agreement of European stakeholders and the International Olympic Committee’.
The Council gave qualified praise to FIFA on its role in promoting labour reform in 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, but said the situation of migrant workers in the Gulf state ‘remains worrying and the number of tragic accidents continues to run into the hundreds’.
It added: ‘Compliance with the International Labour Organisation’s core labour standards should be a prerequisite for being a credible candidate (to host an event) and not a target to reach after being chosen.’
The Assembly acknowledged that moves to regulate agents were ‘controversial’ but said: ‘The interests at stake call for uniform regulations at the global level to avoid distortions on the international transfer market; for the Assembly, FIFA is entitled to adopt such regulations, provided that the constraints and limitations established therein are reasonable and do not go beyond what is necessary to protect the legitimate interests in question.’