FIFA defers $25 bn Club World Cup revamp plans; taskforce to study viability

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FIFA, the world governing body for football, has abandoned plans to vote on Saudi Arabia-backed $25 billion investment proposal that were to see a revamp of its Club World Cup and introduction of Global Nations League, replicating UEFA’s Nations League, to replace the quadrennial Confederations Cup national team tournament traditionally held in the summer preceding World Cups.

FIFA was to decide the future course of action for the proposed major revamp of its international tournaments during a meeting of FIFA council members that concluded in Kigali, Rwanda yesterday (Friday).

It has for now decided to prolong the consultation process into the possible revamp. The members have also decided to set up a taskforce to explore the possibility of the competition’s overhaul. The committee will report on its findings at the next FIFA Council meeting in March 2019.

The idea, initially mooted by FIFA president Gianni Infantino this year in March, has faced strong opposition and dissent from European governing body for football – UEFA – over fears that it might impact the commercial viability of its flagship properties like the Champions League, Europa League, and European Championships.

Some UEFA representatives have also threatened to stage a walkout over the proposals.

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The $25 billion investment for the international football calendar revamp is led by a consortium that includes Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the deal, the investors would control the media rights and other commercial interest related to the competition for as many as three editions. It would even decide the venues of the new format. The agreement, if successful, would result in a major shift in FIFA’s business model, which relies on the sales of tickets, sponsorships and media rights for revenue.

The key decisions taken at the meeting include an increase in funds towards teams competing in the Women’s World Cup in June 2019. Prize money for the upcoming tournament has been doubled to $30 million, while the overall contribution of $50 million is over three times the sum of the previous tournament in 2015.

FIFA also announced that Copa America tournaments will be held in the same years as European Championships from 2020.

The ongoing issue around possible Spanish League games in the United States was also discussed further. FIFA reiterated its principle of hosting league matches in the same territory as the member association.

Also Read: LaLiga’s US plans: Spain FA boss Rubiales urges FIFA to Red Card the move