African nations threw their support behind FIFA’s proposal for a biennial World Cup as Gianni Infantino claimed elite-level opponents of the plan are objecting out of fear.
FIFA president Infantino made a personal appearance at African federation CAF’s extraordinary general assembly in Cairo on Friday, along with Arsene Wenger.
Former Arsenal boss Wenger is the head of global development at FIFA, with the world governing body employing the Frenchman as a figurehead for the World Cup overhaul.
It is far from a fait accompli that FIFA will get its way – UEFA and CONMEBOL are firmly against the switch – but CAF members overwhelmingly backed the plan, having been told by Infantino that it provided a route towards more opportunities on the world stage.
“Obviously as well, it’s natural and understandable, those who are against it are those at the top,” Infantino told CAF members.
“It happens in every sector of life when there are reforms and changes; those who are at the top, they don’t want anything to change because they are at the top, and they are afraid maybe that if something changes, their leadership position is at risk.
“We understand that, and we compliment and applaud them for having been so successful in reaching the top. This is fantastic, and they are an example for everyone.
“But at the same time, we cannot close the door, we need to keep the door open, we need to give hope, and we need to give opportunities to the entire world.
“We need to give more opportunities to all the teams to play with each other – will it be with the World Cup or will it be in another way? We have to study of course all of this.
“We continue to consult, we continue to speak, we thank you for your views and your input.”
Infantino has been telling African nations of the prospect for development long before FIFA put forward its World Cup proposal, and it is clear he has strong support on the continent.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino “I think it’s time to stop talking about the development of African football, and take actions. No African team has won the World Cup. And there is an we impression Africa is going backwards pic.twitter.com/SQ8iwbhatJ
— CAF (@CAF_Online) February 1, 2020
Wenger gave a presentation in which he expressed his belief that biennial World Cups for men’s and women’s football and also spoke of the prospect of more chances to compete for African nations.
“I only defend the project because it is to make football better and more competitive,” Wenger said.
A resolution was announced during the general assembly, in which it was stated: “CAF welcomes the FIFA congress decision to conduct the feasibility study on having men’s and women’s World Cup every two years.
“If the FIFA study concludes that it is feasible, CAF will fully support hosting the men’s and women’s World Cup every two years.”
CAF president Patrice Motsepe conducted a show of hands and, with no objections to the resolution, declared it a unanimous vote in favour of backing FIFA.