ANDhe president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, defended “a healthier, less discriminatory and more competitive football” in the second EFE Sport Business forum, in which he advocated listening to all parties to design an international calendar with “fewer useless matches “and” most relevant.
Infantino maintained that FIFA “will always defend that competitions are played within the pyramidal structure of football”, always appealing to dialogue, when talking about the Super League project; predicted revenue growth from the Qatar World Cup and women’s football in the next decade and guaranteed transparency in the choice of World Cup venues and transfers with the new regulations that it draws up.
In the Forum that Efe organizes with Best Option Media, the Swiss leader praised the football festival that is being experienced these days in Europe and especially in Zurich, where ‘the red passion’ is palpable in the streets of Switzerland after the success of the national team Helvetica in the Eurocup.
Question: After the financial aid from FIFA, has the financial tension generated by the covid-19 crisis been reduced?
Answer: They are never enough, but they have been vital to make football survive in many countries. Thanks to the extraordinarily strong position of FIFA and the work of recent years, we have been able to propose this aid plan of 1.5 billion dollars, something that no other sports organization has been able to do. In Europe there are many governments that have helped football, but in most countries of the world, without this help that goes to amateur, women’s and youth football, football would have stopped for many years. It is the role of FIFA. We did it for football.
Q: Where is this business headed, what is FIFA’s revenue forecast for the next decade?
A: Today FIFA is the only organization in the world that distributes its income to the whole world, I mean that the income of a national league comes from the whole world, but the distribution goes to the 20 first division clubs and a little solidarity at the level. national. A confederation that organizes the Champions League sells rights throughout the world, but its distribution goes to the 32 participating clubs, for example, and some solidarity on the continent. The only organization that distributes in 211 countries in the world is FIFA. It is important because thanks to that money, which is the same in Spain as in Equatorial Guinea, for Spain it is not much but for Guinea it is what makes football live throughout the country. These structures must be protected because it is about the survival of the world at a global level. I am convinced that if we do artificial competitions, the income will go down. If they are real, the income will come automatically.
SUPERLIGA, WORLD CLUB AND CATAR 2022
Q: We are talking about the Super League project. FIFA has been against, but appeals to the dialogue. What is the real position of FIFA?
A: In this sense we were clear. What is important as president of FIFA is to play a role of inclusion, dialogue and analysis. We will always defend the competitions that are played within the pyramid structure of football. We have to analyze and see what the problems of football are and how we can help solve them. There are some red lines that cannot be crossed and we will always defend the competitions that are played within the pyramidal structure of football, legally and under the statutes of FIFA. If someone wants to organize it outside the structures, we are against it. At the same time we have the responsibility to protect football, the big clubs and the small ones and the national teams alike. Sometimes you have to convince everyone to step back or forward to find joint solutions. The doors of FIFA will always be open. We will always protect football in the world trying to help everyone.
Q: What is your forecast to celebrate the Club World Cup with 24 teams that was going to be played now?
A: When talking about this project, it is important to talk about the globality of the international calendar. We want a healthier, less discriminatory and more competitive football and to do this we have to look at the entire international calendar and not just the new Club World Cup. The international calendar is fixed until 2024. Then we have a blank sheet and we are going to design the new one, which has to take into account the interests of the whole world. We have commissioned Arsene Wenger who everyone knows and no one can deny his experience and professionalism, to direct this consultation process with players and coaches, to see what they think of the Club World Cup, the World Cup, the America’s Cup, the Eurocup, the Asian Cup, what they think of the clubs, of the trips in October, November and March from one continent to another, play four games and come back.
All these reflections, the health of the players, the opinion of the fans, which perhaps is not heard enough. People want perhaps less competitions but more relevant competitions. Perhaps fewer useless games and more where you play to win something for your team, for your national team, for your country. That is what we have to analyze because the objective is to globalize football. Maybe football is global because it brings passion and heart, but it is not global because of the opportunities to play and compete in a major tournament.
The Club World Cup, which is an idea to develop club football in other parts of the world, which is fundamental, it is 80% football between clubs and national teams, but it does not have to be in a couple of clubs and countries in Europe, it has to be in the world. And the Club World Cup is part of this reflection and we have to put it on the table. It is not a question of FIFA, but of world football. That is why FIFA has abolished a competition like the Confederations, in which they had to play five games and the winner never won the World Cup afterwards. If a competition is artificial and does not make sense we have to be ready to see how to replace it.
My ambition, my dream, our idea, our philosophy is to have about 50 clubs from all continents that can win a Club World Cup, and about 50 countries or national teams that can win a World Cup. If we can do this, I think football is going to behave very well and it is a very important message for everyone who wants to get back to normal.
Q: There is a year and a half to go before the Qatar World Cup in 2022, what are your television revenue forecasts and what idea do you have to incorporate the youth audience into the audience?
A: In the World Cup in Russia we entered 3.1 billion on television and the budget for Qatar 2022 is close, it will be 3.3 billion. There is growth even in a period of pandemic. That shows the health of football and elite football.
It is true that for many young people, FIFA is an electronic game, not a sports organization. This means that they know FIFA and football and we have to take advantage of this knowledge to get them to play football. That is our first responsibility and the second that they are fans and we can do this by offering them what they want, new possibilities to see it on different screens, simultaneously, talking with friends, with legends, giving angles to watch, modernizing the way in which they are sight.
We want to do it by developing the technological aspect, but also with our television partners, because it is their interest that the next World Cup not only be 4,000 million but 5,000 million people watching football.
CANDIDATURES 2030 AND REFORM OF THE TRANSFER SYSTEM AND AGENTS
– Q: For the 2030 World Cup there are already projects of several joint candidacies such as Spain and Portugal, what do you think? Is a transparent election assured?
A: The president of FIFA does not have a vote, it is the 211 countries that vote. Spain and Portugal are two soccer countries and they will make a solid, robust and important candidacy. It is important that there is again a renewed interest from many countries to be candidates. This means that people have confidence in the FIFA process, which perhaps was not the case. Today is like this because we have held the vote for the 2026 World Cup as an open, transparent and public process in which there are not 20 men in a closed room who vote. Everything is open, audited and the votes are public and transparent. What we can guarantee to Spain and Portugal and to all those who want to organize it after 2026 is that the process will be one of absolute integrity and transparency and then that the best one wins.
Q: On the regulatory side, you are working on a transfer system reform, what does it consist of?
A: The last year before the covid, 7,000 million dollars were paid in international player transfers. Of those, 700 went to player agents and only 70 were paid to player training clubs. When there is such an important flow of money with almost no rules, it is not good for the image or the integrity of football. We decided to create a Clearing House that will ensure that the training clubs receive the money that is due. If 100 million euros are paid for a player, 5 must be paid to them and the Clearing House will take care of it.
Q: They also prepare a regulation for agents, have they reached consensus? When will it come into force?
A: When it comes to reform of the transfer system, that of agents has to be included. FIFA decided when I was away that the system had to be deregulated. The jungle law. We want to regulate it in a very transparent way. There are agents who represent both clubs and sometimes the player in the same transfer. There is a very clear conflict of interest and it cannot be. The license for agents was also abandoned a few years ago and sometimes irrational commissions are read, you have to look at this too. The Covid has delayed the application, we are in the consultation phase and we hope that all those who want transparency and integrity agree. Show the world that business in the transfer of players can be done in a legal and clean way. In the next year I hope we can apply it.