Friday 30 September 2016

FIFA president Gianni Infantino calls for 'bullet-proof' World Cup bidding process

Nick Mashiter

Published 04/03/2016 | 21:00

Fifa president Gianni Infantino is bidding to clean up the organisation
Fifa president Gianni Infantino is bidding to clean up the organisation

FIFA president Gianni Infantino believes football's world governing body must make the World Cup bidding process "bullet-proof".

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The 45-year-old, elected FIFA's new chief last week, wants future competitions to be clear of corruption allegations.

A report into the 2006 World Cup corruption allegations has concluded a payment of 6.7million euros from the German football federation (DFB) to world governing body FIFA in April 2005 cannot be ruled out.

The award of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar have also been tainted by allegations of corruption and Infantino - who wants to start the 2026 process within three months - insisted FIFA must ensure it does not continue during future bids.

"We need to make sure we do everything we possibly can, not only to prevent strange things happening around bidding processes but also to prevent the perception strange things could happen," he said, speaking in Cardiff ahead of the International Football Association Board AGM on Saturday

"So, we need to make sure the bidding process that we put in place is absolutely bullet-proof.

"Now, an absolute guarantee on everything as of now? It's certainly the commitment that I want to give and that I will do everything I can to make sure this happens because I think that the credibility of FIFA is, as well, at stake here and we have to get the 2026 process absolutely right."

Russia is due to host the World Cup in two years and Infantino insisted it was time to focus on making the tournament a success.

"I am a pragmatic person," he said. "FIFA needs to deliver to World Cups, one in two years and one in six years for decisions which have been taken six years ago.

"Following which there has been a lot of speculation and a lot of allegations but not one single fact, in six years. At some stage we have to say 'let's focus on working'. I want to work and help Russia and Qatar host the best World Cups ever, as we always say."

Infantino included a 40-team World Cup in his election manifesto and he insisted he will try to convince others to expand the competition.

He said: "I believe in it but I'm not a dictator as well, I can only try to convince everyone this is the right way forward.

"If I can't it will be tough for me but I will have to change my mind. Having said that, when I put something in my head I am quite convincing."

Infantino also revealed he has also received a message of congratulations from shamed ex-president Sepp Blatter after his election win last week.

He added: "I briefly spoke to him to get his congratulations and that was it.

"I won an election and I am responsible to the associations who have elected me. I am going with my convictions and my ideas, trying to do the right thing. Even if I make mistakes, I hope I will make many more good things."

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