FIFA president Gianni Infantino appears hugely hopeful that he has stumbled upon the long-lost secret to filling one of the world’s greatest voids: peace in the Middle East.
Speaking on Wednesday, four years to the day from the opening kickoff of the 2022 World Cup, Infantino showed no shame whatsoever in using the ongoing conflict in the Middle East as a way to further his agenda of an expanded field of teams at the tournament in Qatar. Sharing is caring, after all — quotes from the Guardian:
“Maybe football is a way to build bridges. We have seen as well with the bidding for 2026, the right to organize the World Cup was awarded to three countries [United States, Mexico and Canada] which I think also don’t have the very best political or diplomatic relationships. But football makes miracles, as we know.”
“Obviously the relationship with [Qatar’s] neighboring countries is a factor which is complicating the situation. On the other [hand], even though there are complicated or difficult diplomatic relations, when it comes to football, people talk to each other.”
“Be positive about it. We can do something for the world — and for football. It could happen, anything could happen. Let’s take it step by step. Yes, maybe the chances are small, but I am a very optimistic person, generally, so we will see the situation.”
There is, of course, a
catch massive upside for FIFA. You might not believe this, but it involves soccer’s governing body making a lot of money.
In order to convince the Qatari delegates to share hosting right, the field would likely have to be expanded from 32 to 48 teams — something Infantino has been pushing for quite some time now.
It’s already going to happen when the World Cup comes to the U.S., Mexico and Canada in 2026, so why wait eight years to make all that extra money when you can do it in four? More teams equals more games, equals more host cities/countries, equals more money for FIFA.