FIFA chief Gianni Infantino cautious about imposing sanctions on Super League clubs, says he prefers 'dialogue to conflict'

Infantino said there were many possible avenues to promote 'economic stability' and 'competitive balance' in football.

Agence France-Presse May 05, 2021 17:59:04 IST
FIFA chief Gianni Infantino cautious about imposing sanctions on Super League clubs, says he prefers 'dialogue to conflict'

File image of FIFA President Gianni Infantino addressing a meeting of European football leaders at the congress of the UEFA governing body. AP Photo

Lausanne: FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is not in favour of sanctions against the 12 clubs that tried to launch a European Super League (ESL), preferring "dialogue" on football reform.

The plan to create a closed competition was "unacceptable" and "unimaginable", the world football boss told French sports daily L'Equipe in an interview published on Wednesday.

"Certain actions should have consequences, and everyone must assume their responsibilities," said Infantino, who has publically joined the opposition to the project.

"But you always have to be careful when you talk about sanctions.

"It's said quickly that you have to punish. It's even popular — or populist — sometimes.

"By punishing a club, for example, you are also punishing players, coaches and fans, who have nothing to do with it."

He said that while sanctions should come "first and foremost" from national football bodies, followed by UEFA and finally FIFA, he said "I always prefer dialogue to conflict, even in the most delicate situations".

He urged "listening to everyone" to understand "how we have come to this point".

Infantino said there were many possible avenues to promote "economic stability" and "competitive balance" in football.

He said FIFA were working to reform of the transfer market and planned to reintroduce licenses for agents and wants to cap their commissions.

He also suggested "the introduction of salary ceilings, ceilings on transfer fees", "a limit on the number of players per club, as well as the obligation to have a certain number of locally-trained players" and "minimum rest periods" between games.

Many of these proposals would face tricky legal hurdles or political opposition from inside the game.

With the rescheduled Euro 2020 and Copa America scheduled for immediately after the current season, Infantino also urged reform of the international calendar, calling for "fewer matches, but better quality".

Without offering any details, Infantino promised "interesting discussions" on the recent proposals by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Chief of Global Football Development, who has advocated increasing the number of internationals by holding the World Cup and the Euros every two years.

Infantino also reaffirmed his intention to expand the Club World Cup to 24 teams, without offering a precise deadline, promising that this project, which is being contested by the continental confederations, would become "the best club event in the world".

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