FIFA presidential hopeful promises continental World Cup

January 20, 2016, 4:32am

Article and photo: AFP on Sport24

Nyon - FIFA should look into staging the World Cup across a continent instead of just one or two countries, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said Tuesday as he stepped up campaigning for next month's FIFA election.

Infantino promised a bigger World Cup, reforms to scandal-tainted FIFA to create a "credible" global governing body and more money for member nations in his manifesto for the February 26 vote for a new leader.

The Swiss official, who has been right-hand man to suspended UEFA leader Michel Platini for the past seven years, said the World Cup should be expanded to 40 countries from the 32 for the 2018 event in Russia.

Platini and Infantino have also pressed a plan to spread the European Championships across 13 countries from 2020. Infantino said the World Cup could copy the idea.

"FIFA should investigate the possibility of organising the World Cup not only in one or two countries but in a whole region, so enabling several countries to enjoy the honour and benefits of hosting the World Cup," Infantino said.

Under his plan, there would be an "equitable rotation" for staging World Cups, with a continent that has held the contest having to wait at least two tournaments before getting it again.

The World Cup was held in two countries -- in South Korea and Japan -- in 2002 and FIFA said at the time it would be reluctant to repeat the exercise.

Deciding the 2026 World Cup hosts has been put back because of the scandals that have embroiled FIFA under outgoing president Sepp Blatter. Blatter and Platini have both been banned for eight years over a suspect payment.

In the election, Infantino is up against Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Ali bin al Hussein, a former FIFA vice president from Jordan, South African business tycoon Tokyo Sexwale and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France.