THE future of football could change to avoid a financial crisis, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Monday.
With football worldwide within a total shutdown and no real indication when it will resume amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Infantino warns the business aspect of the sport itself could fall into recession.
“Maybe we can reform world football by taking a step back,” Infantino said in the interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
“There needs to be an evaluation of the global impact – let’s all together save soccer from a crisis that risks becoming irreversible.’
Infantino suggested that different structures could be set in place with ‘fewer’ but more competitive tournaments, with fewer teams but more balance in terms of competitiveness.
Before the sudden pandemic that Europe has become the epicentre of, the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations was moved back to January in order to accommodate for the newly formed 24-team FIFA Club World Cup.
Meanwhile, the congested fixture schedule of football was already hotly debated over the decision to expanded 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar that went from 32 to 48 teams.
The shutdown means there are already too few dates in the FIFA-managed calendar to complete the scheduled qualification paths for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
And with the current pandemic, the already tight schedule that was proposed in increase revenue for each continental federations has now been exposed.
According to a report from the Associated Press, some European clubs are pushing to get more guaranteed games in a bigger Champions League.
And 20-team top leagues could be under pressure to make cuts, which included the Premier League, Serie A and LaLiga.
“It’s not science fiction. Let’s discuss it,” Infantino said about the possibility of changing soccer calendars.
FIFA announced last month a task force of officials from member federations, clubs, leagues and player unions that would look at drafting a new match calendar from 2024.
But that announcement could also now include the next four years to adjust to the current shutdown.