By Associated Press
BUENOS AIRES: South American soccer leaders have given their backing to Gianni Infantino’s bid for re-election as FIFA president as they prepare a four-nation bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
Infantino, who is now in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, went to Paraguay to take part in a CONMEBOL council meeting attended by the leaders of the 10 associations.
“After a conversation about the current reality and the future scenario for South American and global soccer, the associated members to CONMEBOL gave their unanimous support to Infantino,” the 10-nation soccer body said in a statement Tuesday.
Infantino will seek re-election at the FIFA Congress on March 16 in Kigali, Rwanda.
No candidate has yet emerged to challenge Infantino. There is a deadline of Nov. 16 to enter the contest.
South American support for Infantino is a sign both sides have moved past any fallout from CONMEBOL’s rejection of the FIFA president’s failed push last year for a biennial World Cup.
CONMEBOL and European soccer body UEFA, whose teams historically dominate the World Cup and have combined to win every edition since the first in 1930, threatened a boycott if FIFA forced through a decision to play the men’s tournament every two years instead of four.
The FIFA plan would have challenged the status and commercial value of continental events like the Copa America and European Championship.
Uruguay, the inaugural 1930 host, is bidding with Argentina, Chile and Paraguay in the 2030 bid contest. FIFA member federations are due to vote for the host in 2024. The plan would put the 2030 final in the same Centenário Stadium in Montevideo that hosted the first final 100 years earlier.
Ukraine was added last week to the European bid with Spain and Portugal to co-host the 48-team tournament.
Saudi Arabia, which has built close ties to Infantino since he became FIFA president in 2016, is working on an unprecedented multi-continent bid with Egypt and Greece.
It is unclear how Greece could formally join it without UEFA’s permission, while FIFA is committed to a mandatory human rights assessment of bidders that would pose issues for a Saudi candidacy.
FIFA has yet to give a detailed timetable for the 2030 bidding contest.