Feudal Loured: FIFA as a personal fiefdom


Gianni Infantino, the recently elected FIFA mafioso president is trying to put his mark on soccer football early and create a legacy for himself.  But the only mark he’s going to leave is a black one.

BBC:  World Cup: Fifa to expand competition to 48 teams after vote

Telegraph UK: FIFA votes to expand World Cup to 48 teams from 2026

Infantino’s “brilliant” idea is to expand the world cup from 32 teams to 48 by 2026.  It will require eighty games in total to complete the tournament, and sixteen new stadiums for any host country or countries.

He and FIFA claim this move is “not financially motivated”. 9_9

FIFA claims the extra sixteen teams will mean “more chance for smaller countries to compete” (re: Africa and Asia), but the reality will likely be otherwise.  Which is more likely – Asia and Africa each get six more countries to even up the numbers from each confederation, or “proportional distribution among the existing federations” which means the haves with power get even more and the have nots without power get the crumbs?

If it is “proportional”, Europe and South America will benefit the most.  Teams that only qualify for some world cups but not all (e.g. Sweden, Norway, Russia, Czech Republic, Belgium, etc.) will qualify more often and reap the financial rewards.  Africa, currently with a meagre five qualification spots for 54 countries and Asia with 4.5 afor 48 countries, would get only a few more each and lag further behind other confederations.  Even if Africa and Asia got five and Europe got none, it still wouldn’t even things up.

The “proposed” tournament is a farce, sixteen groups of three teams each, with the top two qualifying for a 32 team knockout stage.  Teams will be assigned to pools the way they are now: the stronger teams are split up into every pool to prevent them from playing each others, and weak teams into the remaining places in pools.  This guarantees more strong teams will advance to the knockout stage.  (Costa Rica’s results in the 2014 world cup are unlikely to ever happen again when the system is designed to prevent it.)  FIFA says that teams which play defensively to score enough points to advance (re: the weaker teams) will be punished by being forced into shootouts, extra games and practices that will tire them out.  The deck is already stacked, and an underhanded dealer is holding the cards.

And that’s just addressing the issue of weighting the competition.  What about tickets?  Those ruining running FIFA seem to think that people will show pay for overpriced tickets to see minnows play.  If you take a look at the unsold tickets for Brazil 2014 and various Euro and Asian cups, sometimes even home teams don’t sell out games when they face weak competition (or when they are the weaker competition).

Even if the quality of competition isn’t a problem, there is no guarantee fans will buy those extra tickets or be willing to travel more, or that the number of fans paying will increase.  Fewer games in one city require more travel to see multiple games, and the financial cost may put people off.  Logistics, finances, fan annoyance and disinterest will mean more partially empty stadiums.

Speaking of empty stadiums, the number of stadiums and cities required almost guarantee multiple host countries to share the debt.  There’s already talk of Canada, the US and Mexico co-hosting the 2026 world cup because not even the US has enough.  And what about future world cups?  It would take at least two European countries to have enough stadiums to co-host a tournament (e.g. France and Spain).

And that’s without mentioning FIFA’s demands for construction of new stadiums and kickbacks while they are built, nor the environmental or social damage new stadiums cause.

Who do these people think they are kidding?  Given the rampant corruption of FIFA officials (re: bribery scandals; construction scandals in Brazil, Russia and Qatar; etc.), they are obviously fooling themselves more than the public.  Like the 2022 winter olympics running out of bidders, it’s only when they realize no one is willing to pay the bribes anymore that they will stop overreaching.

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