FIFA election heats up as rivals slam Infantino World Cup plan

Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:33am EST
 
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino's plan for an expanded 40-team World Cup came under fire from two of his rivals as the campaign to secure the top job at the corruption-hit organization heated up on Thursday.

Four of the five candidates to replace Sepp Blatter in the Feb. 26 election in Zurich gave presentations to members of the CONCACAF confederation, which governs the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean, at an airport hotel in Miami.

Normally such meetings take place behind closed doors but CONCACAF officials allowed the media into the room for a rare taste of how the FIFA candidates make their pitch to the electorate -- the heads of national football federations.

The protocol in such occasions is usually for candidates to avoid public criticism of each other.

UEFA general secretary Infantino's plan to create eight new spots in the World Cup was attacked by both Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne, however.

Salman gave a powerpoint presentation of his manifesto and when he discussed FIFA's biggest tournament, the words on the screen read "Promises of more World Cup spots during an election period are unprofessional".

The Bahraini said any changes should be well explained and gain broad support before being introduced.

Champagne was sharper in his condemnation of Infantino's proposal.   Continued...

 
FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa attends an interview with Reuters in Panama City, Panama, January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Rafael Ibarra/Files