FIFA President Gianni Infantino used the crisis between Brazil and Argentina to alert the biggest clubs in the world that managers will have to take responsibility for finding common solutions to the challenges that the international calendar generates in the midst of a pandemic.
Speaking at the European Club Association meeting in Geneva, football’s top hat insisted on the need for greater understanding between clubs and national federations. At FIFA, the fear is that the chaos in the match in São Paulo is just an illustration of the problems that teams will face in the coming months.
“We saw what happened with the match between Brazil and Argentina, two of the most glorious teams in South America,” said the Swiss. “Some authorities, police, security officers took the field after a few minutes of the game to take out some players – it’s crazy, but we need to deal with these challenges, these issues that go beyond the crisis of covid,” said Infantino.
His message comes at a time when European clubs started to use the pandemic crisis to justify the ban on players being released to play for their national teams, even in official qualifiers.
Under pressure due to the risk of a break with the clubs, FIFA has been trying to negotiate. But, at least for now, signs point to a weakening of the Zurich-based entity.
During the event, he indicated that a compromise would be needed so that the next FIFA dates – with matches in the Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup – do not repeat the same fiasco of the weekend.
He proposed a broad consultation process that will involve all football stakeholders in the quest for a stronger international match schedule for the future of football.
Without mentioning names, Infantino said that he received guarantees from governments to hold matches and release athletes. “Some complied, others didn’t,” he said. But he also warned of the need for there to be no discrimination for releasing players in the case of England.
“We postponed the qualifiers in South America that were supposed to take place in March, which is crucial for clubs,” he said. “But now they need to play. We have to protect the Cup, the qualifiers,” he defended.
Infantino asked clubs to find a commitment to release athletes for the October, November and next year game dates.
“It is important for fans that we protect the clubs and that we protect the national teams,” said Infantino. “There is only one football, even if interests may diverge from time to time,” he warned. “We all have to protect football and we all have to protect world football,” he added.