FIFA looking at restructuring age-group events

The prize money for the 2018 World Cup in Russia has also been increased by 12 percent to USD 400 million.

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, at a FIFA Executive Council meeting in Kolkata.   -  AP

The world football’s governing body, FIFA, is looking at completely reorganising its youth competition structure, doing away with the under-17 and under-19 World Cup and having an annual, single age-group competition.

“We are looking at restructuring our age-group events and increase the number of teams to 48 for boys competition and 32 for girls and make it a yearly affair,” FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, said, post a FIFA Executive Council meeting in the city. “It will possibly be an under-18 tournament and can be co-hosted by multiple countries.”

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These ideas, however, need to be discussed over the next few months and final deliberations are expected to be held in March 2018 during the council meeting in Bogota. The decision, if ratified, will come into play post the 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

FIFA also announced the dates and venues of the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup (France), to be held between August 5 and 24; 2018 U-17 World Cup (Uruguay), between November 13 and December 1; 2018 Club World Cup (UAE), between December 12 and 22; 2019 Women’s World Cup (France), between June 7 and July 7.

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The prize money for the 2018 World Cup in Russia has also been increased by 12 percent to USD 400 million. “It’s right to reward the teams that qualify for the World Cup,” Infantino said.

The council also ratified the enhanced bidding regulation for the 2026 World Cup, with the FIFA president stating: “We want to make sure that the process is bulletproof, so stringent regulation for compliance and transparency has been put in place. The process will be monitored by an independent auditor.”

The Club World Cup, too, might see an overhaul with a larger global club competition replacing the quadrennial Confederations Cup. “We have the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi next month. While it is a good tournament, it has failed to have the desired impact,” Infantino said. “We have to look at future of club football across the world and not just Europe and South America. But to have a larger tournament, we need to look at the international calendar. We will look at abolishing some competitions to start one. We will debate on this over the next few months and decide in the council in Bogota.”