Infantino’s solo run

By awarding the 2034 men's World Cup to Saudi Arabia, Gianni Infantino's Fifa has seemingly legalised corruption.

By Sam Kunti

What Gianni Infantino wants, he gets. Earlier this month, his political scheming carved up the future of the World Cup until 2034. The United States, Canada and Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup; Europe, Africa and South America get the 2030 finals and 2034 will go to Saudi Arabia after Australia declined to express interest in the tournament before the deadline on October 31.

Not that Australia had been left much choice. Fifa’s manoeuvring allowed Saudi Arabia to capitalise on backroom deals and memoranda of understanding to whip up support around the world and give the 2023 Women’s World Cup co-host just 25 days to contemplate the bidding requirements - for a tournament that is eleven years away. Contrary to claims of good governance, there was no debate, no democracy and no transparency in the entire process, in a repeat scenario of the Fifa Council’s decision to award the 2023 Club World Cup to Saudi Arabia with no questions asked. 

In championing Saudi Arabia, the ‘new Fifa’ – to use an Infantino trope – is simply the old Fifa, consolidating the disregard for good governance and breaking the organisation’s own rules, in this case, the world governing body’s human rights policy. 

Infantino’s Fifa has seemingly legalised corruption. One national team coach, whose FA has close ties to Saudi Arabia, called his training camps in the Arab Kingdom a form of “legal bribery”. The Oceania Football Federation (OFC) recently denied that there were any financial incentives when it signed an MoU with the Saud...

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