- Combined 3.57bn watched 2018 World Cup
- Infantino insists soccer’s “unique reach” will change perspective of Qatar
Gianni Infantino is expecting the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar to be the most-watched in the tournament’s history, with the president of soccer’s global governing body projecting five billion viewers will tune in.
“The last Fifa World Cup was watched by four billion people, the last Fifa Women’s World Cup by 1.2 billion people,” said Infantino, who was speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.
“This World Cup in Qatar will be watched by five billion people, way above half of the world’s population. All these people who follow and pursue the same passion, they all feel the same way and they all know that football has this uniting force.”
Fifa officially confirmed that the 2018 World Cup in Russia was watched by a combined 3.57 billion viewers, equating to more than half of the global population aged four and over. The final between France and Croatia was seen live by a combined 1.12 billion viewers worldwide.
Infantino also discussed the role soccer could play in changing perceptions of Qatar, as the World Cup heads to the Middle East in less than six months. The country has been fiercely criticised over its suitability as tournament host due to human rights abuses and diplomatic concerns. Human rights group Amnesty International has described Fifa’s showpiece event as the ‘Qatar World Cup Of shame’, citing the country’s treatment of migrant workers and stance on the LGBTQ community.
Infantino maintained that sport can “inspire” and “unites” people, adding that soccer will help change the perspective of Qatar.
“Football, as the most popular sport in the world, has a unique reach,” he said.