Israel could co-host future World Cup in region, FIFA president says

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Israel could co-host future World Cup in region, FIFA president says

Gianni Infantino made the remarks during his first official visit as FIFA president to Israel

Gianni Infantino also met Israel's president Isaac Herzog during his visit
Gianni Infantino also met Israel's president Isaac Herzog during his visit

A future World Cup tournament hosted by Israel and its neighbours is one step closer to reality thanks to the Abraham Accords, FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino has said.

He said during his first official visit to Israel that a jointly-hosted tournament was a possibility as world football’s governing body considers expanding the format for men’s and women’s games.

There has been speculation that some tournaments could be held annually.

“Why can’t we dream of the World Cup in Israel and its neighbours?” he asked at the opening of the Friedman Centre, a think-tank launched in Jerusalem by the former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

“With the Abraham Accords, why should we not do it here in Israel with her neighbours in the Middle East and the Palestinians?”

Infantino also pointed to Israel’s national team, in which Jewish and Arab Israelis routinely play alongside each other, as an example of coexistence inspired by sport.

The first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East is set to take place in Qatar at the end of next year, amid widespread criticism of the nomination process and the host’s human rights record.

But the philanthropist Sylvan Adams told a separate event on Tuesday that an Israeli-hosted event could be held as early as 2030.

He told the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference that he was in contact with FIFA over the possibility of organising a regional World Cup at the end of this decade in Israel.

“I am willing to help, as I did with the Giro d’Italia (cycle) race, but we need the government’s help,” he said in remarks addressed to Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

No host has yet been awarded for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, although several candidate have emerged – including a possible joint bid that would unite the four nations of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

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