Clubs against 40-team World Cup

Vice-chairman of the ECA Umberto Gandini attends a news conference in Paris, on Feb 9, 2016.
Vice-chairman of the ECA Umberto Gandini attends a news conference in Paris, on Feb 9, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • The European Club Association (ECA) may have thrown its weight behind Fifa presidential candidate Gianni Infantino but it is not in favour of the Swiss official's World Cup expansion plans.

The ECA insisted on Tuesday that expanding the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams would put too much burden on clubs and inflict physical overload on players. "We are satisfied with the balance of interest and any change would need very careful review," insisted its vice-president Umberto Gandini.

The AC Milan director was speaking at the end of a two-day working session in Paris with a bouquet of subjects on the club lobby group's agenda, chiefly aimed at combating Fifa reforms to the World Cup.

The ECA said "the burden on players has become too much" and described the new proposal by Infantino as leading to physical overload. "The clubs acknowledge the importance of national teams to the federations but we have a responsibility to the players," Gandini explained.

He revealed that Infantino, who is also the Uefa general secretary, presented his manifesto to them on Tuesday and that the 45-year- old intended to expand the World Cup to 40 teams by 2026 if elected.

Infantino and Asian Football Confederation chief Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa are the front runners to win the Feb 26 vote at Fifa, which has been embroiled in a huge corruption scandal with 41 people and entities indicted by the US Department of Justice.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Clubs against 40-team World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe