The news that FIFA is seriously considering a Global Nations League along with a new format for a World Clubs Cup revolutionises world football competitions. Global football structure had remained relatively unchanged since 2008 when FIFA introduced global competition for women 17 years and younger. That was precisely a decade ago!
FIFA will not claim to be the first to moot a Nations League. That claim belongs to Europe who plans to run such a league later this year, albeit at the continental level. Initially, there were rumblings that FIFA may not adopt the innovative idea of national teams playing an extended league competition because of lack of room in FIFA’s current international match calendar. However, it appears that the lure of a huge revenue is too enticing.
Media reports include an offer of at least $25 billion over 12 years for FIFA from an international consortium. The offer includes a 51% stake for FIFA in the deal. Of course, global advertisers are going to line up to pay big money for exclusive rights to an event that has no substitute in attracting the largest number of viewers. So, is it really surprising that FIFA is enticed to participate in this new league as well as re-structure its World Clubs Cup?
Of course, FIFA must first convince its member countries to sign-on. But why wouldn’t they? Think about this, the winner of the elite division of this new league could take home at least $25 million compared to a mere $4.1 million that Germany earned to win the last Confederations Cup!
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Think about the fact that countries like Seychelles, playing in the lower Division 7 of this new league, could take home at least $500,000. It is the type of money that a poor footballing country can only dream about. So, in spite of the murmurs about increased games, about having to ditch international friendlies, about adverse impact on national league scheduling; take it to the bank that FIFA President Infantino will win the argument later this month when he meets FIFA Council members. The argument will be subtly lace with the visualisation of a fat cheque. It is what it is.
Africa: Visualising the Cheque
Gianni Infantino rose mercurially to FIFA Presidency on February 26 of 2016 after he previously had no such plan until his UEFA boss, Michel Platini, became enmeshed in FIFA corruption.
Infantino’s rise to the position of the most powerful man in world football followed the path first introduced by Joao Havelange in 1974 and then cemented by Sepp Blatter, Infantino’s most immediate predecessor.
It was and will always be a path laced with money. The ability to promise the federations millions has always been effective in getting the votes. In 2016, Infantino took that path, promising the federations much more money than they had ever received. It worked.
The challenge was how to raise the money particularly under the climate where sponsors are having second thoughts after several indictments of top FIFA officials over corruption. But with this international consortium promising billions of dollars, it has now become a Eureka moment for Infantino.
At last, he has his source for the money he promised. It is that check that several African federations now visualise.
Do you blame them? I think not. After all, these are federations that depend on government money to operate. Finally, they can now find funds to either seek full independence from governmental straps or, at least, a means of supplementing government funds. Some, like the Nigerian federation, may see this as opportunity, a light in a dark tunnel, to escape the vise grip of government. It is a grip that has largely emasculated them.
African federations, and many others around the world will voice their opinions and cast their votes on these proposals later this month. You should already know how they are likely to vote. Simply follow the smell of the money. They have sniffed it, they have visualised it, and what is left is to grasp it. Take that to the bank.