Had Room 433 been open for business just a few years ago during the height of Sepp Blatter’s reign of terror over football’s governing body I’m sure that FIFA would have featured a lot more prominently in these columns. But after a lot of neglect, it’s time to introduce FIFA to Room 433.
For new readers, Room 433 is where we lock away all the things from the world of football that irritate me in a concept completely different to BBC’s Room 101. Before we continue I am of course referring to the FIFA that governs world football and not the video game, although that has a habit of irritating me too.
FIFA looked to be back on the right path, or at the very least not on the worst possible path when Sepp Blatter was ousted from the top of the organisation in 2015 and given a six-year ban from football, a ban that is far too short. Hopefully, the days of World Cups being given to the highest monetary bidder and the general stench of corruption would be a thing of the past yet there certainly still is an aura of suspicion that surrounds the organisation that just will not go away.
Gianni Infantino, who’s sketchiness can be exposed by even a cursory glance on google, was elected (again I use that term loosely) to the office of President in 2016. The Italian is standing for re-election in June and – surprise, surprise – will be standing unopposed as none of his opponents could even gain the backing of just five of the over 200 FIFA members. While under Infantino FIFA may not quite be as corrupt as it once used to be it has come up with some truly terrible ideas: maybe the worst offence being changing the format of the World Cup.
The World Cup works absolutely perfectly as a 32 team tournament – look at the triumphs that the 2014 and 2018 editions were – yet Infantino wants to expand the tournament to a truncated 48 teams that will mean fewer group games for the teams that actually get there, and a general dilution of quality like what was seen at the 2016 Euros: an abysmal tournament compared to the two World Cups either side of it.
Plus the best thing that international football has produced in ages, the Nations League, is a UEFA creation (it’s coming home by the way).
FIFA has certainly improved since the dark, dark Sepp Blatter days but it has a long way to go and as a result, has to be locked in Room 433. I just hope that unlike say, combined 11’s, it does not stay there forever.