DOHA: FIFA officials will focus on this year’s World Cup final as they host their annual congress in the Qatari capital on Thursday, setting aside divisions and controversy.
For the past year, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been criticized by critics, especially in Europe, for proposing to turn the World Cup into a biennial tournament from an event held every four years.
At one point last year, the plans were set for a vote in Congress, risking a split in the game, but FIFA removed the idea after widespread – and often intense – criticism.
Another possible source of controversy in Congress was the continuation of FIFA membership of the Russian Football Union, although their teams were suspended from the game after the invasion of Ukraine.
Despite calls from the governing body to ban Russia, Ukrainian club CEO Shakhtar Donetsk has called for their secession in the same way as for racist South Africa, but FIFA has not received any proposals to remove them. .
A source said it would still be possible for a delegate to make such a call from the Congress floor, but that such an application could not be processed under the agency’s law.
Although Russian representatives will be present, Ukrainian soccer officials have not been able to travel to Doha and will be represented by an embassy official instead of their agency.
Infantino, who faces an election in next year’s congress, is expected to focus his speech on praising Qatar’s preparations for the November tournament.
The auction process
Despite the ongoing debate over the bidding process for hosting rights, voted on in 2010, and despite concerns about migrant workers and other human rights issues, Infantino will create the event that will be a major milestone for the first World Cup in the Middle East.
“When I hear some voices saying that an Arab country does not deserve to host the World Cup because there is no history of football or something like that, I do not agree with it because the whole world deserves the World Cup. “Infantino told Reuters television.
“This time it is an Arab country. There were some problems but we were able to help them a little bit, ”he said.
Qatari organizers will use the congress as an opportunity to reassure FIFA delegates that their preparations are on schedule and to inform skeptical supporters that they can expect a joyous visit to the Gulf country.
“I think a lot of fans, especially those living in the Northern Hemisphere, will be excited to leave their cool country to come here, enjoy the weather, go to the beach, enjoy the food here, enjoy the various cultural attractions. “Life at night,” Nasser al-Khatar, the Qatari organisation’s chief executive, told Reuters.
“It’s going to be a special World Cup and we’re here to welcome the fans.”
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