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FIFA president makes absurd claim about how a World Cup every two years could prevent Africans dying at sea

Gianni Infantino FIFA
(Image credit: PA)

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has suggested that the socio-economic benefits of a World Cup every two years could create a "better life" for those in Africa, so that "they do not need to cross the Mediterranean".

The sport's governing body are keen to double the number of World Cup tournaments for men and women, with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger among the most famous voices in favour of the proposal. Infantino has given his voice to the cause too – and speaking on Wednesday at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, the 51-year-old had a bizarre motive behind the plans, as he suggested some of the global opportunities that the tournament could provide. 

“I understand that in Europe the World Cup takes place twice a week,” he said. “Because the best players are playing in Europe. So in Europe, there is no need for additional possibilities and events.

“But if we think about the rest of the world, and the vast majority of Europe that doesn’t see the best players or participate in the top competitions, then we have to think about what football brings, which goes beyond the sport.”

Infantino is a self-claimed supporter of bringing football to smaller countries – including Qatar, who are controversially hosting the World Cup later this year. 

“We need to find ways to include the entire world,” the Italian claimed. “To give hope to Africans so that they do not need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find, maybe, a better life. But more probably death in the sea.

“We need to give dignity and we need to give more opportunities, not by providing charity, but by allowing the rest of the world as well to participate. We will discuss what the best way is to be more inclusive, not just to speak about saying no to discrimination, but to actually act in exactly that direction.

“By being more inclusive. By bringing everybody on board. By trying to give opportunities, hope and dignity to the entire world.”

Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett described Infantino’s as “completely unacceptable”.

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT