FIFA boss Gianni Infantino said the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has left a “transformative legacy’.
This edition of the World Cup in Qatar has been “the best ever”, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Friday.
Infantino attributed this to the “unique, cohesive power that this World Cup has shown” in Doha, following a meeting of the FIFA council.
“Many people from around the world have come to Qatar and have discovered the Arab world, which they didn’t know or they knew only for what was portrayed to them,” the FIFA chief told reporters.
He called it “the transformative legacy of this World Cup.”
Infantino praised the diversity of the nations that advanced to the tournament’s knockout round, as well as the presence of the tournament’s first female referee.
Morocco made history by becoming the first African and Arab team to go to the semi-finals. Their journey in the 2022 World Cup has inspired football fans in the area and sparked an Arab and Muslim unity wave in the region and worldwide.
“Teams from all the continents moved to the knockout phase, showing that there is something happening when we speak about football becoming truly global for the first time,” Infantino said.
“I think Morocco’s performance has been exceptional. Fantastic … They played from the heart but also with an undeniable quality. Reaching the semifinals of the World Cup doesn’t happen by chance,” he added.
He congratulated Morocco, but also Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia.
“This puts on display the level of African football. I am very happy. The moment of African football was always about to arrive. And it finally did. And the fact that, in the next World Cup, the number of African teams participating will almost double will help that,” Infantino noted.
“The World Cup has been an incredible success on all fronts,” he expressed.
The World Cup in Qatar has also enabled FIFA to earn more than $1 billion; over and beyond what was anticipated for this four-year cycle, according to Infantino.
In the period from 2018 to 2022, FIFA earned about $7.5 billion, and Infantino predicted that by the end of the 2026 World Cup, which is being jointly hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, revenue might reach $11 billion.
3.27 million people have already attended the games, as opposed to 3.3 million who watched the entire 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The biggest sporting event is not over yet, as the third-place playoff between Croatia and Morocco will kick off on Saturday and a final match is set to take place between Argentina and France on 18 December.
The FIFA president said that the 2026 World Cup’s format would alter, with the number of participating teams rising to 48 and being divided into 16 groups of three, with the top two teams advancing to the round of 32. However, FIFA has not yet discussed this.
Since the World Cup’s 32-team expansion in 1998, four-team groups have been employed, with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stages. This structure produced some outstanding drama in this year’s group stages.
Club World Cup
Additionally, Infantino said that the 2025 Club World Cup will have 32 participants, making the format comparable to the present competition.
Currently, the Club World Cup is a competition between the best teams from each continental league and the national champion of the host nation.
The competition, which now features seven teams, would be staged every four years, according to him, and would increase revenue for the international sports organisation.
Morocco will host the 2022 Club World Cup from 1 to 11 February 2023. Normally conducted in December, the event was postponed this year due to the Qatar event, according to Infantino.