Fifa sets wheels in motion for global Nations League

Global governing body planning to revamp international soccer with US$25bn backing.

Fifa sets wheels in motion for global Nations League

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Fifa has opened talks over a new global Nations League international tournament which could see some European soccer federations earn up to US$75 million every two years.

Plans for the competition were put forward by Fifa president Gianni Infantino and were discussed by representatives of the six continental federations at a meeting on Monday at soccer’s global governing body’s headquarters in Zürich.

The Associated Press (AP) news agency obtained a letter sent by Infantino to members of his ruling council outlining the extent of the windfall from the new tournament. The Swiss said that an international consortium, which last month tabled an offer to run Fifa competitions, would guarantee revenues of at least US$25 billion over 12 years to create an expanded version of Uefa’s Nations League, running on a two-year cycle for more than 200 national teams.

The plan for a global Nations League was developed by European soccer’s governing body - where Infantino previously served as general secretary – last year in an attempt to rejuvenate international soccer by replacing friendlies with more competitive matches and begins in September.

Fifa’s global format would begin with regional qualifying groups featuring promotion and relegation, which would then lead to intercontinental finals brackets in seven divisions. The top sides would then compete in an eight-team tournament comprising nations from five continents, including three European countries and two from South America.

In a proposal from Infantino specific to Europe, Fifa forecasts that the five top countries could each be guaranteed to receive between US$37.5 million and US$50 million to play six games in the initial phase of the Nations League. Those that progress to the final eight would then land an additional US$15 million and another US$5 million for being runner-up or US$10 million for claiming the title.

The cumulative US$75 million for a European winner would dwarf the US$35 million received by Germany for winning the 2014 World Cup and the US$38 million on offer for the winner of this summer’s edition in Russia.

Infantino’s letter added that the funding would also allow Fifa to expand the Club World Cup from an annual seven-team tournament into a quadrennial event for 24 participants. The Confederations Cup, which serves as a warm-up event for World Cup host nations, would be replaced by the expanded Club World Cup, which would see US$3 billion in revenue guaranteed for each edition by investors.

Infantino also moved to assure Fifa council members that the plans do not threaten the future of the World Cup.

Both the new Nations League and the Club World Cup would be run by Fifa, while an agency would be used to commercialise the competitions. Before any progress can be made, however, both tournaments still need to be approved by Fifa’s 37-member ruling council.

“Should the confederations show their willingness to move forward, an extraordinary Fifa Council meeting would be called around mid-May to finalise Fifa’s position on the strategic matters impacting this project,” Infantino wrote in the letter seen by the AP.

“Matches would be ensured for all national teams and this format would offer a concrete, guaranteed, long-term financial security for all of Fifa’s member associations and substantially increase their current revenues. This would significantly support the member associations’ efforts in football development on their territories.”

Infantino added that Fifa’s share of the profit for any revenue from the new competitions over the projected US$25 billion would be redistributed among the 211-member federation and the six continental bodies.