Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, is still campaigning for his biannual World Cup, a mythic destiny/personal quest to bathe the organization’s execs in even more cash, gold, and swag bags. However, you can’t campaign for this ridiculousness on the platform that it will make the rich even richer. One has to shroud it in something to get us plebes on board. So why not make it seem like a World Cup every two years would solve…death?
Well, maybe not death itself. But certainly poverty in Africa. And immigration issues to Europe. And then in turn… death. He continued:.
“If we think about rest of world, and the vast majority of Europe, then we have to think about what football brings. Football is about opportunity, about hope, about the national teams. We cannot say to the rest of world give us your money, but watch us on TV. We need to include them.
“We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea.”
Well, that’s one approach. It’s not everyone who’s willing to declare war on the Reaper himself, or I guess if it’s at sea Poseidon/Davy Jones. So let’s give Infantino some credit for making no small plans. And certainly all of us plebes are happy to avoid ocean-related mortality.
But no, a World Cup every two years isn’t about solving income inequality or saving migrants on the Mediterranean. And the through-line to that is certainly creative from Infantino, if not complete fantasy. This is FIFA. It made $4.6 billion the last World Cup year, and in non-World Cup years still rakes in somewhere around $700 million profit. If FIFA were truly interested in applying that money to actual poverty, it has it. It doesn’t need more to actually do something. If you’re waiting for FIFA to show where all that money goes now…hope you’ve got some insoles. Better for your back while standing.
While certainly immigrants flock to Europe for better opportunities, it is rare if ever that any of those risking life and limb across the sea are coming over to play soccer. Looking at that quote, Infantino appears to be holding a World Cup every two years as a beacon of hope more than an actual vehicle to better lives. Just the gleam from it will see those migrant ships safely to port, apparently. Truly a beacon.
Or maybe that the money will lead to more people playing soccer, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. But that won’t mean that anything more than an infinitesimal percentage can make a living doing so.
The argument for the biannual World Cup, or the cover argument, is that it will allow more teams to qualify more often, while also getting to double up the number of qualifiers that federations around the world can generate more money from by selling tickets to and all the other things that come with it. FIFA already solved most of this problem by expanding the tournament to 48 teams in 2026, with its ridiculous three-team groups.
No, it’s all about the same reasons Qatar got a World Cup in the first place. FIFA execs want more cash, more wine and dining, more perks for really doing nothing than opening up the opportunity for more organizations and countries to give them that cash, wine and dining, and perks. But hey, at least Gianni tried. I mean, using people dying just seeking a better life as a prop to justify chasing another money canyon is the height of gross, but it is trying.