EXCLUSIVE Soccer-FIFA vice-president Montagliani offers compromise on World Cup plan

MANCHESTER, England (December 2) (Reuters) – FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani has offered a potential compromise in a row over a proposal to host the biennial World Cup that has divided the world body.

Canada’s Montaliani, the president of CONCACAF that rules the game in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is a key ally of FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his idea for an alternative tournament is likely to be discussed this month.

Infantino has been locked in a bitter dispute with UEFA over proposals to increase the frequency of World Cup matches, with major leagues and clubs opposing plans put forward by FIFA’s head of global football development Arsene Wenger.

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An alternative to the biennial World Cup could be a tournament loosely based on the old Confederations Cup, which has not been held since 2017, or a global version of the Nations League used by UEFA and CONCACAF, Montaliani told Reuters in an interview.

“The principle of having an event between the World Cup finals is something that I fully support,” Montaliani said.

“The question is what will that be, how do we look at it, how does that affect other things like qualifications and tournaments that already exist? That’s the process we need to go through,” he added.

The Confederations Cup was held every four years, prior to the World Cup, and the eight-nation tournament involved both the winners of continental tournaments such as the Euro and the Copa America along with the World Cup holders and the host nation.

“We used to have something between the World Cup, the old Confederations Cup. It wasn’t the tournament everyone had turned into, but for some of the confederations, it was a good link between your regional rivals and an international competition and we are one,” Montaliani said.

“Four or five years ago, we had discussions about the ‘World Nations League’, so these discussions are not alien to the table. It might look different, whether it’s the World Nations League, the Confederations Cup or Arsene’s idea of ​​a World Cup every two years. That’s it. The events that fall between the current World Cup tournaments.

“What I would like to see is (analysis of) the ramifications, not so much on the revenue side but what is the impact on the ecosystem that we currently have. I think our approach is to look at this from a holistic point of view.”

Current tournaments

Al-Kindi said that one advantage of the Confederations Cup model was that there was no need for a separate qualification process – as teams would earn their places through existing continental tournaments.

FIFA is due to hold a global summit of all national associations to discuss its plans on December 20.

In October, after UEFA threatened to boycott the World Cup further, Infantino said he was looking for consensus on the broader issue and mission of a new schedule for the game’s international matches. The current calendar agreement for international tournaments expires in 2024.

“We need to look at the sporting and economic advantages, then we can have a rational discussion about the World Cup and possibly other competitions,” Infantino said.

Montaliani changed CONCACAF’s club competition from the group stage format to the direct knockout tournament, and said the format of the new tournament should be discussed.

“It could be completely different from what the World Cup will be,” he said. “A different format that we haven’t thought of could be exciting for the fans.”

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(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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