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World Cup every two years could mean African migrants 'don't need to die in the sea' – FIFA president

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said his plan to hold the World Cup every two years could stop African migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr Infantino made the comments at a session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe – a transnational organisation focused on human rights.

The FIFA boss is one of the main backers of the Future of Football strategy, designed to promote greater inclusion of non-European teams, mainly through more regular tournaments.

He said on Wednesday: “This topic is not about whether we want a World Cup every two years, but about what do we want to do for the future of our football.


“I think about the rest of the world… and the vast majority of Europe, then we have to think about what football brings.

“Football is about opportunity, about hope, about the national teams.

“We cannot say to the rest of the world give us your money, but watch us on TV. We need to include them.”

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Speaking specifically about Africa, Mr Infantino added: “We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea.

“We need to give opportunities, to give dignity. Not by charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate. Maybe the World Cup every two years is not the answer. We discuss it.”

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The comments have been heavily criticised as “completely unacceptable” by anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett.

He said: “It is completely unacceptable to suggest that a biennial World Cup, predominantly set up to drive further profits for FIFA, could be a solution for migrants who risk their lives, sometimes fleeing war-torn countries, to seek a better life.”

UEFA president Alexsander Ceferin has also expressed “grave concerns” over the Future of Football project.

He claims it will undermine and clash with smaller regional tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations and the Copa America.

Critics have also argued it would leave players overworked and exhausted, while supporters say it will give smaller nations more chances to qualify to play at international level.

Other backers include ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now chief of global football development at FIFA, Saudi Arabia, and former footballers such as Michael Owen and Yaya Toure.


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