FIFA boss hails Confederations Cup but tournament future remains in doubt

Published July 1st, 2017 - 10:54 GMT
FIFA president Gianni Infantino
FIFA president Gianni Infantino

FIFA president Gianni Infantino Saturday hailed the Confederations Cup as "a great success from many points of views" but left open the possibility it could be the last one.

The expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams from 2016, the 2022 Qatar World Cup moved to European winter months has put a question mark over the tournament's future.

Infantino said the immediate future of the Confederation Cup was the final Sunday between Chile and Germany and the match for third place between Portugal and Mexico.

"What happens after that is something, as always in FIFA since I arrived, we will analyse as we do for all other competitions," he said.

"We will analyse the Confederations Cup and when we come to a conclusion we will take a decision."

Infantino praised the warm welcome and "perfect" organization in Russia. None of the problems reported beforehand such as a lack of interest, hooliganism, violence or racism materialised.

"We had nothing, no incident, everything ran smoothly, everything ran perfectly," he said.

"If a problematic tournament looks like this tournament then I would like many of these problematic tournaments going ahead because it was a great success," he said.

Infantino also praised the video assistant referees system, which was tested during the tournament, as "a great success."

The rule-making International Football Association Board (IFAB) could give the go ahead in March for the system to be used at the World Cup.

"Nothing is standing in the way of using VAR as far as I am concerned," Infantino said.

On reports of doping affecting Russian football, Infantino said investigations were continuing and FIFA bodies were in touch with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

"We are making a lot of news on speculation but there are also some facts," he said, pointing out that all tests had been negative.

All Russian players at the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016 and European club competition had been tested independently by the WADA laboratary in Lausanne, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko and chief World Cup organizer, who has denied any doping in Russian football, talked at length about the doping reports, but clearly exasperated at one point said Russia "have to react to these claims all the time."

He added: "If I perform a Russian dance will you stop asking these questions."

British newspaper the Mail had reported during the tournament that FIFA was assessing whether all 23 members of Russia's squad at the 2014 World Cup were involved in a state doping programme. Five members of that group were part of the squad at the Confederations Cup.

Two reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found at least 1,000 athletes were involved in a state-sponsored doping programme.

WADA's independent anti-doping investigator Richard McLaren believes Russian football had a separate cover-up system to conceal positive tests, German broadcasters ARD reported on Wednesday.

McLaren told ARD that 155 urine samples could have been part of this cover-up and were yet to be tested. He assumed that the samples were either manipulated or positive.

Infantino said FIFA had a "zero tolerance" policy on doping, and "if samples have been tampered there will be sanctions as well. We are waiting for these results."

By Barry Whelan

© 2019 dpa GmbH

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