Club World Cup may be delayed or scrapped because of coronavirus

Club World Cup may be delayed or scrapped because of coronavirus

Gianni Infantino wants to keep the 2020 Club World Cup on the calendar, but says discussions are ongoing (Nick Potts/PA)

This year’s Club World Cup in Qatar could be delayed or scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said.

The competition, which brings together the club champions from the six regional confederations, is due to take place in December as part of the Middle East state’s preparations for hosting the World Cup in 2022.

However, delays to international club competitions – such as South America’s Copa Libertadores – mean it could be pushed back to 2021 or abandoned altogether.

Infantino said: “When it comes to the current Club World Cup of 2020, well since many confederations or some confederations will probably not conclude their Champions Leagues until December, it is unlikely that this event will take place in December of this year as was originally planned.

“But we are discussing, we are monitoring, we are seeing if it can be hosted in Qatar maybe at the beginning of the (new) year.

“We certainly want to see if we can keep it, we will do that consulting all the confederations and all the participating clubs and take the best decision for football.”

Infantino told delegates from the 211 national associations gathered virtually for FIFA’s 70th Congress that the organisation was in good financial health despite the pandemic, “because the money doesn’t disappear any more”.

In 2015 FIFA was toxic, it was pronounced dead

FIFA president Gianni Infantino

FIFA has launched a Covid-19 relief plan made up of grants and interest-free loans worth 1.5 billion US dollars.

He said FIFA’s murky past and victim status in a number of ongoing corruption cases was the reason why he had on many occasions met with prosecutors from a wide range of countries, including three meetings with Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber in 2016 and 2017 which are now the subject of criminal proceedings.

“In 2015 FIFA was toxic, it was pronounced dead,” he said.

“It was an organisation that had served itself from football, had used football, instead of serving football.

“Why was I meeting the Swiss attorney general? Because it was my duty as FIFA president. I wanted to liberate FIFA from those old, toxic values.

“No organisation can be led into the future if you don’t resolve the past.”

Infantino said he had been given no new information related to the proceedings against him since they were opened at the end of July, but described the suggestion that they involved any illegal activity as “absurd” and “far-fetched”.

Nasser Al Khelaifi arrives at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland, on Monday (Francesca Agosta/AP)

FIFA’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke is currently standing trial in Switzerland over alleged criminal mismanagement while in office in relation to the sale of media rights to FIFA competitions. He denies the charges he faces.

FIFA dropped a criminal complaint against another defendant in the same trial, Paris St Germain president Nasser Al Khelaifi, after reaching a settlement.

Asked why FIFA had not just let the case proceed, he said it was a matter for the organisation’s legal department and that the settlement was perfectly legal.

Al Khelaifi, who is a serving member of UEFA’s executive committee, denies a charge of inciting Valcke to commit criminal mismanagement.

The Congress approved a rule change which will give players greater scope to switch national teams.

Players can now represent a second national team, provided they meet eligibility criteria and have played no more than three matches for the first national team at senior level, with all the appearances coming before the player turns 21.

Appearances in World Cup finals matches or continental finals such as the Euros would also prohibit a player from switching, but appearing in a tournament qualifier would not.

Infantino confirmed the 71st FIFA Congress would be held in Tokyo next year.

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