FIFA President Gianni Infantino says it’s time to focus on soccer and not worry about the future of the Confederations Cup. Speaking before Portugal faced Mexico in their Group A opener on Sunday in Kazan, Infantino also sent his condolences to the Portuguese people following the forest fire that killed more than 60 people in the country.
Infantino said it’s important to make sure this year’s Confederations Cup works well as a rehearsal for the 2018 World Cup. “Today we have to focus in this Confederations Cup. We are here to watch some great football,” Infantino said. “Then we will see what is going to happen.”
During the Confederations Cup draw in November, Infantino put the Confederations Cup on notice as part of a leadership review. He said that everything was “on the table,” including playing on a different date or with a different format.
Doubts about the tournament surfaced when dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar were moved to November instead of June to avoid the searing heat in the region. Having a Confederations Cup exactly one year ahead of the World Cup, at peak time for European leagues, would not be acceptable.
FIFA suggested in 2015 that Qatar could stage a Club World Cup in late-2021 as an “operational test event. “Infantino spoke in Portuguese to the media from Portugal, and talked about the tragedy before answering any questions.
“This is a very sad day. We are all with Portugal,” Infantino said. “We want to send a big hug to everyone in Portugal for what they are going through, which is absolutely terrible. There are no words for that.”
Raging forest fires in the central region of the country killed at least 62 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road. The Portuguese football federation released a statement, signed by coach Fernando Santos, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the players, saying that “in this sad hour we send our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires.”
The players wore black arm bands during the game against Mexico. Both teams stood for a moment’s silence before the game started.