(FILES) This file photo taken on February 26, 2016 shows new FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacting after winning the FIFA presidential election during the extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich.
FABRICE COFFRINI / AF
* Talks down threat of violence in Russia
FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has suggested as many as four countries could jointly stage the expanded World Cup in 2026, just as he claimed to be unconcerned about the threat of fan violence in Russia in 2018.
Football’s international governing body last month voted to increase the number of teams competing in the quadrennial tournament from 32 to 48, significantly adding to the infrastructural and logistical demands upon any country hoping to host the event.
Japan and South Korea are the only nations to have jointly staged the competition, doing so in 2002. The European Championship has been shared between two countries on three occasions, in 2000, 2008 and 2012, while Euro 2020 will be split across numerous locations on the continent.
And Infantino, who helped to push through that decision during his time at UEFA, has now flagged the likelihood of the World Cup following a similar pathway.
“We will encourage co-hosting for the World Cup because we need FIFA to show we are reasonable and we have to think about sustainability long-term,” Infantino said in Doha.
“It is perfectly in line with our sustainability and legacy to maybe bring together two, three, four countries who can jointly present a project with three, four, five stadiums each.
“We will certainly encourage it. Ideally the countries will be close to each other for the sake of ease of travel.”
The FIFA president, who succeeded the disgraced Sepp Blatter 12 months ago, also brushed off concerns about the potential for fan violence at the next World Cup, after Russian supporters were accused of sparking significant issues at Euro 2016 in France.
“I’m not concerned about trouble and violence in 2018,” he said. “I have full confidence in [the] Russian authorities, they are taking this matter very, very seriously.