FIFA president Gianni Infantino has clarified his comments suggesting that a World Cup every two years can stop African migrants from “death in the sea”.
World football’s governing body has been pushing to make the showpiece a biennial tournament, with Arsene Wenger, who is Fifa’s chief of global football development, leading the charge.
Since the idea was proposed, Uefa, top European leagues and Conmebol have all opposed it, while the Confederation of African Football has given it its unanimous backing.
With Infantino looking to change perceptions about the proposal, he spoke at the Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Wednesday about the benefits of a World Cup every two years, but made some comments that sparked anger.
“We need to give hope to Africans so they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find, maybe, a better life but more probably death in the sea,” he said, per the Daily Mirror.
“We need to give opportunities and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity, but by allowing the rest of the world to participate.”
These comments were widely criticised by many, and the Fifa president has now insisted that his words were misinterpreted.
“Given that certain remarks made by me before the Council of Europe earlier today appear to have been misinterpreted and taken out of context, I wish to clarify that, in my speech, my more general message was that everyone in a decision-making position has a responsibility to help improve the situation of people around the world,” a statement from Infantino posted on Fifa’s social media channels read.
“If there are more opportunities available, including in Africa, but certainly not limited to that continent, this should allow people to take these opportunities in their own countries.
“This was a general comment, which was not directly related to the possibility of playing a Fifa World Cup every two years.” — Kickoff.