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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Gianni Infantino plans for new global tournaments back on Fifa agenda

Members of the ruling council to meet in Rwanda to discuss Fifa president's proposals for a new 'mini-World Cup' and an expanded Club World Cup

Fifa president Gianni Infantino addresses the elective assembly of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on October 22. AFP
Fifa president Gianni Infantino addresses the elective assembly of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on October 22. AFP

Plans for two new global tournaments are set to be discussed at Fifa's council meeting in Rwanda on Friday that could include a revamp to the annual Club World Cup.

Members of the ruling council meet in Kigali to discuss Fifa president Gianni Infantino's proposals for a new "mini-World Cup" - essentially replacing the Confederations Cup - and an expanded Club World Cup according to items up for discussion on an agenda document released Tuesday.

Infantino wrote to Fifa Council members in May outlining his plans which he says are backed by a "solid and serious" group of investors willing to spend US$25 billion (Dh92bn) over a 12-year cycle starting in 2021.

According to an Associated Press report, Fifa would have a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture with the investors underwriting guaranteed revenues of at least $25 billion.

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group is widely reported to be backing the proposals, although neither Infantino or Fifa has disclosed the name of the investors, citing a confidentiality agreement.

Back in May, Infantino had pushed for a quick decision to be taken, saying that the investors had set a 60-day deadline, but the proposals were shelved after Uefa and the European Clubs Association (ECA) voiced their opposition, particularly to a change in the annual Club World Cup. In its current guise the format brings together the six continental champions and the host country's league champions in a knockout tournament. This year's tournament will be held in Abu Dhabi for the second successive year - fourth overall - from December 12-22.

Fifa proposes an expanded 24-team club tournament, with at least 12 from Europe, starting in June or July 2021. The format of eight three-team groups, advancing to an eight-team knockout round, would see teams play a maximum of five games.

Fifa's partnership with investors would guarantee $12 billion in revenue from the Club World Cup — $3 billion for each of four editions from 2021-33.

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Read more:

Roberto Carlos: winning the Fifa Club World Cup 'the pinnacle of international club football'

Esteban Cambiasso: Former Inter Milan and Real Madrid midfielder shares his Fifa Club World Cup memories

The draw: Real Madrid braced for 'difficult' Club World Cup in UAE ahead of bid for third straight title

When is the 2018 Club World Cup? All you need to know about the UAE tournament

Fifa looks for $25 billion, 12-year deal for new tournaments

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Both the ECA and Uefa, European football's governing body, vehemently oppose any tournament that directly challenges its own Champions League competition, the most lucrative club tournament in the world. Uefa fear any rival club competition could be a threat to its broadcast sales worldwide.

Clubs, however, are said to take a different view. According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, leading clubs from Spain including Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as those from England's Premier League, emerged from Fifa presentations supporting the idea of a new Club World Cup every four years, which promised an average of more than £100m (Dh474m) to each participating club.

The new competitions could secure long-term revenue for many of the 211 Fifa member federations who rely on its financial support. It also would provide a strong platform for Infantino to run for re-election next year.

The proposals have met with plenty of opposition though. Aleksander Ceferin, president of Uefa, said the plans were "highly cynical and ruthless mercantilism" and accused Fifa of selling the soul of the game.

Infantino's proposals for a new international tournament would bring about major changes to the calendar.

The proposals outline what would effectively be a mini-World Cup, featuring eight international teams, every two years in addition to the traditional World Cup finals.

The tournament, known as the "Final 8", would be the climax of a proposed World Nations League competition, not to be confused with Uefa's own Nations League tournament.

In May, it was suggested that the new tournament would take place every October and/or November of every odd year starting from 2021. The Confederations Cup, currently staged every four years in a year before the World Cup, would be abolished.