ZURICH (Reuters) - New FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants players to become more involved in the running of the sport and has recommended a cautious approach to the use of technology.
Infantino, elected on Friday to replace Sepp Blatter, also suggested that soccer directors should behave “more like fans and less like politicians” and said his proposed 40-team World Cup would have little impact on the football calendar.
“It’s important that the players are involved because they are the stars of football,” he said in an interview on FIFA’s website, one day after taking charge of world soccer’s ruling body.
“They have to be involved in the decision-making process. We need to listen to the players, we need to listen to their voices, to their experience, to involve them in the activities we do.”
Infantino has inherited an organisation which has been plagued by scandals over the last year.
Several dozen soccer officials, including a number who held high-ranking FIFA positions at the time, have been indicted in the United States and Blatter himself has been banned for six years for ethics violations.
Infantino said the sport could not close its eyes to using technology to help referees but had to be careful about interrupting matches too much.
Soccer’s rule-making body IFAB, at which FIFA holds four of the eight votes, will discuss on Saturday whether to authorise trials of video technology to help referees make decisions over questionable goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
“It’s crucial to see what impact technology will have on the flow of the game,” he said.
”Football is a special game, it’s the most beautiful and most important sport in the world and we don’t have to kill football.
“If the flow of the game is guaranteed, then I think we need to see how technology can help the game, we have to start with tests sooner rather than later.”
Infantino also remembered the days in which he went to football matches in his oldest clothes, rather than a suit.
“Of course, when I used to go to a football match, I wore jeans and my worst shirts and now when I go to a football match I have to wear a tie and jacket,” he said.
“I think we need to change this and become, on our side as the leaders of the game, a bit more like fans and a bit less like politicians.”
The idea that football directors should be less formal was previously suggested by Jerome Champagne, a candidate in last week’s FIFA presidential election, during his campaign.
Infantino has proposed increasing the World Cup from 32 teams to 40.
“We give eight more countries the possibility of participating but many more teams the possibility of dreaming that they can qualify,” he said.
“I think it will have no impact on the calendar, but we need to discuss this and move forward from there.”
Editing by Ed Osmond