BUENOS AIRES: The president of South America’s football confederation has reiterated that teams from the region would boycott FIFA’s plans for a biennial World Cup and said there is no chance that such a proposal will go through.

Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL, said on Thursday that “it’s a waste of time” for FIFA President Gianni Infantino to continue pushing his desire to stage a World Cup every two years.

“CONMEBOL will not play every two years and that is final. ... It is a no go, there’s no chance,” Dominguez said in an interview. “This [plan] was dead at birth, we have made it clear from day one.”

Infantino has insisted that staging the World Cup every two years instead of every four years will allow more countries to qualify and create more interest and revenue. But Dominguez said South American and European teams, which have won every edition of the tournament since 1930, will not take part under that format.

“Without European and South American teams I have doubts that one can achieve these revenues they talk about,” Dominguez said.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has also publicly opposed FIFA’s plan, and their joint disapproval of the proposal seems to have brought the European and South American governing bodies closer together.

Ceferin visited CONMEBOL’s headquarters two weeks ago for a celebration for Dominguez’s sixth anniversary at the helm. But Dominguez insisted that they don’t have a personal beef with Infantino.

“This is not action against Infantino,” he said. “It is just impossible to think that we can have a World Cup every two years. It would kill Copa America, and Copa America is a very important source of income for our associations. That would not be equivalent to a World Cup every two year.”

Dominguez also said the controversial proposal for biennial World Cups will not affect Infantino’s chances to remain as FIFA president in the next elections.

“Today I don’t see any rival that is emerging or reemerging, someone that proposes something different to Infantino’s leadership,” the CONMEBOL president said.

The partnership between CONMEBOL and UEFA will include friendlies between South American and European teams before the World Cup in Qatar, Dominguez said.

Brazil and Argentina, who have already qualified for the tournament in Qatar, have long complained about the difficulty in scheduling matches against European rivals.

“Speaking about a Nations League between South America and Europe is very important. The Europeans also know they have to play against South Americans. Home and away,” the CONMEBOL president said.

Copa America winners Argentina and European champions Italy will face off in June. There’s also a proposal for continental runners-up Brazil and England to clash before Qatar.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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