A massive power play manifested in the online FIFA Council meeting, whose main agenda was to determine the hosts for the FIFA Women’s WorldCup 2023. After Japan withdrew its bid to host the prized tournament in the last minute on Monday this week, the choice was between two bids; Colombia and a joint New Zealand/Australia bid.
In the technical evaluation report, the joint Australia/New Zealand bid had received a favourable rating of 4.1 against Colombia’s 2.8, sparking outrage from the Football Association chief Ramon Jesurun, who accused the World Governing Body of bias and discrimination, sentiments echoed by CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez.
Their joint letter to FIFA took issue with FIFA’s criticism of medical services, doping and commercial aspects of there bid, adding that “Colombia lives in a time of stability and social peace, fruits of efforts and maturity of its people”.
The fall-out between former friends Infantino and Dominguez can be traced back to 12th February when UEFA hosted a collaborative meeting with CONMEBOL, which despite being packaged as a cordial exchange, was ostensibly a political coalition, which would see both confederations vote jointly on matters of mutual interest.
To this end, UEFA has been warming up to the Colombian bid, throwing its weight of 9 votes behind CONMEBOL who have a total of 4 votes. Sheikh Salman of Bahrain is said to have endorsed the Australia/New Zealand bid, after their member Japan withdrew.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin reached out to Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad earlier this week, seeking help in crowd-sourcing the 7 votes from the continent. The Malagasy guaranteed Ceferin to vote with UEFA, as his ties with Infantino have been strained of late.
Just this week, FIFA’s head of disciplinary and ethics committees Carlos Schneider announced that there are 13 active investigations, and he promised that they will be expedited swiftly, even though confidentiality rules didn’t allow him to delve into the specifics.
Ahmad’s case however has been high profile and he is expected to be banned by FIFA’s Ethics Committee over a complaint filed last year by his Secretary General Amr Fahmy.
He is hoping that his new found alliance with UEFA will provide immunity from reprimand, and open the pathway for a his re-election next year when African Confederation polls are due.