BY LIAM MORGAN
Qatar has been awarded the hosting rights for the 2019 and 2020 Club World Cups by the FIFA Council as the ruling body paved the way for Gianni Infantino to be re-elected President by acclamation.
The Gulf nation will stage the next two editions of the tournament, the last to be held in its current guise, as test events for the 2022 World Cup.
The seven-team event is due to take place in December to mirror the conditions at the 2022 World Cup, moved from its traditional June-July slot to November and December owing to the heat in Qatar.
The FIFA Council earlier this year approved plans to revamp the Club World Cup and make the tournament a 24-team competition, to be held every four years in the space vacated by the Confederations Cup.
It came despite opposition from top clubs in Europe, who have threatened to boycott the new competition, the creation of which has been spearheaded by Infantino.
Potential hosts of the new Club World Cup will be “proactively approached and analysed” before the Council makes a recommendation on the location of the event at its next meeting in Shanghai in October.
The Council, meeting in Paris, unanimously agreed to put a proposal to amend the governing body’s statutes regarding the election to the Congress.
The motion from Asian Football Confederation head and senior FIFA vice-president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al‑Khalifa will allow the Congress to elect a President by acclamation if there is only one candidate.
It is expected to be rubber-stamped by FIFA’s Member Associations when they meet for the Congress on Wednesday (June 5).
Infantino, elected to complete disgraced predecessor Sepp Blatter’s term in 2015, is set to secure his first full four-year stint at the helm of FIFA at the Congress in the French capital.
The Council also agreed to reinsert the word “corruption” back into its code of ethics after it was controversially removed from the document last year.
The inclusion of sexual exploitation and abuse as severe infringements was among the other amendments, due to come into effect on August 1, approved by the Council.
The suspension on the Sierra Leone Football Association, implemented in October, was lifted with immediate effect after the body’s President Isha Johansen and secretary general Christopher Kamara were cleared of corruption offences last week.
The decision was widely expected and ends the SLFA’s brief period in exile.
FIFA has also moved to guarantee public hearings in cases of doping and match manipulation, which the governing body promises will be made public.
A “three-step procedure” which could lead to matches being automatically forfeited for racial abuse will also come into force next month.