FIFA president Gianni Infantino has drawn ridicule and anger at his latest pitch for a biennial World Cup.
The proposal is a pet project of Infantino's, and the Swiss bureaucrat has gone to great lengths to convince the footballing world of its merits.
Unfortunately for Infantino, the world has not been as receptive as he imagined, with the two major football confederations - UEFA and CONMEBOL - the European Club Association among his most vocal critics.
On Wednesday, he tried to bring a humanitarian angle to his grand plan at a parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.
Addressing the assembly, Infantino said, "This topic is not about whether we want a World Cup every two years, but about what do we want to do for the future of football.
He added, "If we think about rest of world, and the vast majority of Europe, then we have to think about what football brings.
There's no refugee in the world who would say that they left their own land because of the world cup, but that's how #Infantino sees #Africa.
Now #FIFA cares about ppl, this is must be a joke especially when you holding the next world cup in #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/oBGEKhkoNE
— Kiko (@Karim_Kiko) January 26, 2022
"Football is about opportunity, about hope, about the national teams. We cannot say to the rest of world give us your money, but watch us on TV. We need to include them.
“We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea.
“We need to give opportunities, to give dignity. Not by charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate. Maybe the World Cup every two years is not the answer. We discuss it.”
Naturally, such wild and baseless claims of football preventing refugees seeking a better life has been met with a mixture of ridicule and scorn.
Andrew Stroehlein, the European Media Director of Human Rights Watch tweeted, "My colleagues at Human Rights Watch interview refugees around the world pretty much every day.
"We write reports about the reasons - the abuses, the hardships - that forced them to leave their homes. They never mention the timing of World Cup tournaments."
Meanwhile, anti-racism group Kick It Out's CEO Tony Burnett described Infantino's comments as "completely unacceptable".
"If FIFA has a genuine commitment to tackling inequality, they should be investing time and resource into charitable causes on the ground, rather than disguising what appears to be a profit-making biennial World Cup as the answer to any existing problems.”4/4
— Jamie Gardner (@PAJamieGardner) January 26, 2022