Olympic members unite against Infantino’s World Cup plan

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The International Olympic Committee on Thursday called FIFA’s fading plan for biennial World Cups a threat from soccer to all other sports.

IOC President Thomas Bach has chided his FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino, an IOC member for the past two years, for not being in Beijing to hear the criticism.

“We would all have very much liked to discuss FIFA’s proposal for a biennial World Cup together with the FIFA president and the IOC member,” Bach told about 100 colleagues at the traditional pre-Olympic meeting, some in person and others by viewing. remote form. .

Bach added, in a break from the usual politeness of IOC meetings, that speaking directly with Infantino “is not possible against expectations because he canceled his visit to Beijing the day before yesterday.”

Infantino was expected to be watching remotely, either from FIFA’s hometown of Zurich or from Doha, where he has been living ahead of this year’s World Cup. The tournament in Qatar starts in November.

The FIFA president has been pushing a plan to host World Cups for men and women every two years instead of four. FIFA believes the plan will accelerate the development of soccer around the world, close the gap with the European clubs and national teams that dominate the competitions and add billions of dollars in revenue that it can share among its 211 national associations.

Infantino has strong support from Africa for the plan. But European and South American soccer bodies have said they will boycott the biennial tournaments.

FIFA’s plan “has no chance” of succeeding, South American soccer president Alejandro Dominguez told The Associated Press last week.

Mustapha Berraf, president of the African group of national Olympic committees, led the IOC’s opposition on Thursday, saying the biennial World Cups would have a “huge impact” on his continent.

“The plan promoted by FIFA at this time would create immeasurable damage and endanger sport in general,” Berraf said.

IOC Executive Board Member Nenad Lalovic, representing summer sports, and Olympic table tennis gold medalist Seung Min Ryu said adding additional World Cups would increase the workload on players. and put your health at risk.

“There comes a point where athletes have to say, ‘Stop,’” Ryu said.

After four interventions by the IOC members, Bach asked for and received applause to give Infantino back the feeling of the room.

Infantino previously faced criticism from sports leaders when Bach and the IOC arranged an online meeting in December.

Momentum on the FIFA plan stalled after European and South American officials raised concerns. Infantino then released plans for an expected vote on the issue in December.

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