Friday 06 October 2023, 22:00

Gianni Infantino says FIFA World Cup hosting decisions have brought the world together

  • FIFA President said that "while the world is divided, football and FIFA are uniting”

  • Gianni Infantino was addressing the AFC Member Associations and Regional Associations Presidents’ and General Secretaries’ Conference 2023

  • Uzbekistan hailed as an example for football growth

FIFA and football have brought the world together with the decision regarding the hosting of the FIFA World Cup™ tournaments in 2030 and 2034, Gianni Infantino said in his address to the AFC Member Associations and Regional Associations Presidents’ and General Secretaries’ Conference 2023 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The FIFA Council unanimously agreed on October 4 that the joint bid of Morocco, Portugal, and Spain would be the only candidate to host the FIFA World Cup 2030™ and that the first three matches would take place in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay respectively to celebrate 100 years since the inaugural tournament in Uruguay in 1930. It was also agreed that FIFA member associations from the territories of the AFC and the OFC would be invited to bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2034™.

"While the world is divided, football and FIFA are uniting," the FIFA President said. "Three days ago, at the FIFA Council, we brought the world together. We decided unanimously that it would not be the right thing to walk divided into a bidding process for hosting the biggest event on earth, the FIFA men's World Cup, and came with a proposal that brings together on one side the celebration of the 100 years of the World Cup in 1930 ...... and then also bringing two continents together to host the World Cup in Morocco, Spain and Portugal -- united. “

He added: "In 2034, we will come east again....and it is our wish and our ambition that this process can be done in a smooth and united way."

The two-day conference in Tashkent brings together presidents and general secretaries of the member associations and zonal associations of the AFC to explore avenues for further growth and development.

Gianni Infantino pointed out that FIFA had increased investments in football development sevenfold since 2016, and this had encouraged the AFC and its zonal associations to organise regional competitions, invest in women's and youth football and grow the game across the region. The expansion of the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams from 2026 would give an added incentive for development in Asia by doubling the AFC’s number of guaranteed slots at the tournament from four to eight, he said.

"This will have a great impact in football in Asia, because suddenly all of you can dream of being part of the World Cup, you can legitimately have the ambition of participating in the greatest event on earth. And there is even more to that, the passion, the fans, the investments: these are targeted to make football grow everywhere," he said.

He also congratulated the Uzbek Football Association, recalling his previous visit to the country in May and his meeting with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in New York in September.

"Uzbekistan has been an example on football growth and football development in the last few years," said Mr Infantino, pointing out that Uzbekistan won the AFC U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, reached the round of 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023™ in Argentina and have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023™ in Indonesia from 10 November to 2 December. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan will also stage the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024™, becoming the first Central Asian MA to host a FIFA tournament.

"A lot of work is going on," said Mr Infantino. "I came here in May last year and have been witnessing the progress that has been done, also with the academy and with engagement and investment of the whole government."

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