The World Cup could be spread across entire regions, emulating the continent-wide 2020 European Championship, if Gianni Infantino wins the FIFA presidential election next month. The UEFA secretary general used his manifesto to say FIFA should not limit the tournament to be being held in one or two countries. The 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea was the only time the event has been co-hosted.
Infantino, working alongside Michel Platini at UEFA, spearheaded spreading Euro 2020 across 13 countries.
In November, Infantino announced his plan to expand the World Cup to 40 teams. Allowing several countries to stage matches in about a dozen stadiums would ensure the tournament is not limited to just a few wealthy potential hosts.
“FIFA should investigate the possibility of organizing the World Cup not only in one or two countries but in a whole region, so enabling several countries to enjoy the honor and benefits,” Infantino’s manifesto says.
The first World Cup bidding after the February 26 election is for the 2026 tournament. The launch of the contest has been stalled since last year when FIFA was swept up in a global soccer corruption scandal, which led to Joseph Blatter announcing plans to quit before being banned.
Infantino, who is Swiss, is one of five presidential candidates seeking votes from FIFA’s 209 member associations.
In an attempt to entice federations, Infantino is also offering them a greater share of FIFA’s wealth, saying a “proper risk analysis must be conducted” into whether the governing body requires cash reserves as high as US$1.5 billion.
Each of FIFA’s members will be offered US$5 million to invest in development projects and running costs — a huge increase on the US$2.05 million per federation 2011-2014 — and another US$1 million, if required, for travel, which would be attractive to small nations in remote regions.
Additionally, each of the six confederations will be handed US$40 million to invest in development projects and their regional offshoots in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Central America can request another US$4 million to organize youth tournaments.
The amounts are all within a four-year cycle.
“If the target of 50% of distribution of FIFA’s income is reached, these amounts will further increase significantly,” Infantino said.
Infantino entered the race only after Platini, his boss at UEFA, was initially suspended by FIFA in October before being handed an eight-year ban last month.