Infantino hails Qatar World Cup as “best ever”

FIifaPresident Infantino is seen in silhouette as he arrives for a press conference at Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC). PHOTO/AFP 

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Infantino said the body’s activities for the period 2023-2026 would run on a budget of $7.5b, up from the $6.4b used in the 2018-2022 period.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has declared that the 2022 Qatar World Cup that concludes tomorrow is the “best ever”.

This is the 22nd edition of the global football showpiece event. It has featured 32-nation playing for the first time in the Middle East and Arab world.

“The Fifa Council was unanimous in its praise for the World Cup and all the people concerned to make this the best World Cup ever,” Infantino said at a news conference in Doha on Friday.

The world football boss announced a number of decisions made by the Council including a 17 per cent increase in its next four-year cycle budget.

Infantino said the body’s activities for the period 2023-2026 would run on a budget of $7.5b, up from the $6.4b used in the 2018-2022 period.

Fifa normally gives annual financial assistance to its member federations. 

“The Fifa Council has approved the budget for the next four year cycle which foresees a revenue of $11b,” Infantino said.

Some $200m will be used in the Talent Development Scheme headed by former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, who is Fifa’s Chief of Global Football Development.

Fifa described the programme that will run from 2023 to 2026 as a “ground-breaking initiative, which aims to create a sustainable legacy for long-term player development by helping each member association reach its full potential and ultimately give every talent a chance.”

Infantino revealed that the Fifa Under-17 World Cup would change from a biennial tournament to one held annually for both boys and girls.

The number of participating teams will also be increased from the current number 24 for boys and 16 for girls.

The Club World Cup will be hosted by Morocco in February 2023.

An interesting development is a new 32-team Club World Cup that Fifa has approved. It will be held in the summer of 2025.

Infantino said Fifa would work on the finer details of the tournament that may not be received well by the rich European clubs, some of which have also considered starting a Super League on the continent.

Infantino said the World Cup in Qatar has averaged 52,760 spectators per match with the highest attendance at 88,666 for the Group C match between Argentina and Mexico that was held at Lusail Stadium on December 26.

Some 3.7 million fans have attended the 62 matches played thus far.

On Saturday, Morocco clash with Croatia in the third place play-off at Khalifa International Stadium. 

The curtain comes down on the first World Cup in the Arab world on Sunday when Argentina square-off with France for the right to be called world champions.

The Fifa boss asserted the world had been treated to some incredibly competitive games, upsets and beautiful goals.

He praised African teams for their performance.

“Teams from all the continents for the first time featured in the knock-out stage. An African and Arab team reached the semi-final for the first time.”

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