Sepp Blatter slams Gianni Infantino's plans to reform competitions

‘What is happening at the moment is an over-commercialisation of the game’: Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter hits out at Gianni Infantino’s plans to reform the World Cup and World Club Cup

  • Sepp Blatter criticises Gianni Infantino’s plans to reformat FIFA’s competitions 
  • The FIFA president has increased the World Cup to 48 teams for the 2026 Finals
  • This week he also announced a new 32-team World Club Cup to launch in 2025
  • Ex-president Blatter calls the reforms an ‘over-commercialisation of the game’

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has slammed Gianni Infantino’s plans to reformat the World Cup and the World Club Cup. 

The 2026 World Cup is set to be the first 48-team tournament when it’s hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico. A massive increase from the 32 nations that competed in Qatar, as Infantino continues his election pledge of a bigger and more inclusive World Cup going beyond European and South American teams. 

In addition to increasing at the World Cup, the 52-year-old also announced this week plans for a new 32-team World Club Cup to launch in 2025. 

Sepp Blatter does not agree with the plans for a new World Club Cup and a bigger World Cup 

The plans have been met with criticism by Blatter, who complained about the  over-commercialisation of football during an interview with German weekly De Zit, which is released on Wednesday. 

‘What is happening at the moment is an over-commercialisation of the game.’ Blatter said. 

‘There are attempts to squeeze more and more out of the lemon — for example with the World Cup finals with 48 teams or now with a Club World Cup that must be viewed as direct competition to the Champions League.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino this week announced plans for a 32-team World Club Cup to run every four years that will launch in 2025 

‘FIFA is encroaching here on something that is actually none of its business, club soccer.’

Blatter served as FIFA president from 1998, but retired early in 2015 following the fallout from an investigation into corruption in the governing body. He continues to deny any wrong doing to this day and pleaded his case once again during the interview. 

The 86-year-old said: ‘I have never taken money that I didn’t earn — that’s why nothing on me could ever be proven in all the proceedings against me. And that will remain the case.’ 

The 2022 World Cup was the last 32-team tournament and will be increased to 48 for 2026 

The Swiss claims he has ‘no relationship with Infantino’, the man who succeeded Blatter as president in 2016. Accusing his fellow countryman of ‘only communicating through lawyers’ with him since the changing of the guard at FIFA. 

Blatter goes on to claim that during his tenure he did everything he could to ‘control the business’. Citing attempts of trying to implement a pay cut and reducing the transfers of young talents leaving South America and Africa for Europe. 

Admitting that although he didn’t prevent the game from everything, he always tried to ‘serve’ the sport.   

Blatter’s reign as president came to an end in 2015 following claims of corruption at FIFA 

‘We didn’t manage to protect soccer from economic and political influence’. He said in the interview. 

‘I really tried always to serve soccer. If in doing so I damaged it, then I am sorry.’

Infantino’s plans for a new World Club Cup have been met with similar criticisms to Blatter’s. With many in the game concerned with the scheduling and player burnout in trying to accommodate another competition into the calendar. 

Indeed many of the top clubs will need these issues addressed before signing up to a competition that will take place every four years. 

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