The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) is preparing to vote on a proposal by a group of investors to create two new world tournaments for football clubs and national teams. The plan is being promoted by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who is in confidential talks with a group of investors, including Japan’s SoftBank. They promise to allocate $ 25 billion for these competitions.
Infantino will in the coming days inform the FIFA Council, the executive body of the federation, that a special meeting will be held before the World Cup in Russia, at which a decision on tournaments can be made, according to several people involved in this process. (On June 13, Moscow is scheduled to host the FIFA Congress, the highest body authorized to approve the changes. – Vedomosti.) In a recent letter to FIFA members, which the Financial Times reviewed, Infantino explains the investor proposal.
They promise to invest $ 25 billion in a joint venture, the share of FIFA in which will be 51%. It will host the Club World Cup and the Nations League tournament.
According to Infantino, these are “some of the most respectable investors in the world”, which include funds and multinational corporations from Asia, Europe and North America. Referring to non-disclosure agreements, Infantino has not yet named the consortium members. But they will become known at the meeting, two sources said. Previously, people familiar with the situation told the FT that the consortium was created by the British foundation Centricus, whose founders helped SoftBank raise money for its $ 100 billion Vision Fund.
Investors are proposing to expand the club’s World Cup, which currently has seven teams (ranging from six continental confederations plus the host’s team), to 24 teams every four years starting in June 2021. They guarantee that they will provide $ 12 billion for the first four draws through 2033. According to two people familiar with the plans, in each of these four tournaments, the prize money for the clubs will be $ 1.9 billion, another $ 450 million will go to cover the costs of organizing the competition, and another $ 600 million will be paid in financial support to confederations, national federations and smaller clubs.
On April 30, FIFA announced that the FIFA Council has discussed the reformatting of the Club World Cup and the creation of a new League of Nations. For further work, a working group will be created, composed of six secretaries general of the continental confederations that form FIFA, and FIFA secretary general Fatma Samura.
In recent days, FIFA has discussed the format of the club world championship. The maximum representation can be obtained by clubs from Europe, where the world’s strongest leagues: 12 out of 24 participants, so that the tournament is attractive for TV broadcasts. Participants can be selected from the latest UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League winners, or according to club rankings, according to people familiar with the situation. The proposal has already received support from clubs such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
But he also has opponents. In particular, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) sees in this project a competitor to its tournaments for European clubs – the Champions League, which is now the most prestigious club tournament with € 1.3 billion in prize money, and the Europa League.
Investors are also looking to set aside $ 13 billion through 2033 for a new tournament for national teams. In addition, investors are promising FIFA another $ 1 billion for its “digital transformation”. Negotiations have already begun on the creation of a media service that will allow FIFA to broadcast matches over the Internet. Although two people in the know warn that these negotiations are still at a very early stage.
UEFA on Wednesday should discuss proposals with representatives of European clubs, leagues and players. After that, he will probably express his position. According to a senior official close to the UEFA leadership, it is unhappy that FIFA did not provide more details about the investor proposals. “Doing things that certain big players don’t like is dangerous,” he notes. (UEFA is considered the most influential football confederation of the six that form FIFA. – Vedomosti.)
Last week, the World Leagues Forum, representing a number of national leagues, said it was “strongly” opposed to any proposals that would further load the competition calendar. But FIFA insists there will be fewer games per season. It is assumed that the club world championship will replace the Confederations Cup, and the League of Nations – friendly matches between the national teams.
“We are confident that this proposal is a great opportunity for the confederations and their member associations, as well as for football in general,” said Infantino in the letter. “FIFA has no other interest than to fulfill its duty to present him to all of you.”
Translated by Alexey Nevelsky