Biennial World Cup will do ‘immeasurable damage’ to global sport, IOC members warn

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Fifa’s plans for a biennial World Cup have come under a coordinated ambush from International Olympic Committee members in Beijing, with one warning it would create “immeasurable damage” to global sport.Three delegates in a row at the 139th IOC congress in Beijing stepped up to attack Gianni Infantino’s controversial idea before the IOC president Thomas Bach intervened to say that the Fifa president – who was due in Beijing – had not shown up and that further criticism should wait.Those critical of Fifa’s plan included the National Olympic Committees of Africa president, Mustapha Berraf, who claimed it would have a “heavy impact” on the continent and football in general.“The plan would create immeasurable damage and would put sport in danger and in particular football,” said Berraf. “It would simply push away other sports and relegate them to the back benches – which is unacceptable – and create a rift between women’s and men’s sport, and be a setback to our aim of creating equity and parity for all sports.”He also pointed out that footballers were “not robots”, adding: “I make the request to put an end to this endeavour which is incompatible with our Olympic values.”Berraf’s intervention was particularly notable given that Infantino, who is also an IOC member, last week claimed that his biennial World Cup proposal could help prevent African migrants from finding “death in the sea”.Nenad Lalovic, head of United World Wrestling, and Ryu Seung-min, a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and a former Olympic table tennis gold medallist, also condemned the idea.“Football should cooperate in solidarity with other sports and International Federations,” Ryu said. “Sport is for all and we need more solidarity among sport.”However, Bach then stepped in to reveal that Infantino had cancelled his visit to Beijing two days earlier, and that any discussions should take place with Infantino present.Quick GuideHow do I sign up for sport breaking news alerts?ShowDownload the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhones or the Google Play store on Android phones by searching for ‘The Guardian’.If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.In the Guardian app, tap the yellow button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.Turn on sport notifications.Thank you for your feedback.“We would like to discuss this with the Fifa president but this is not possible because he cancelled his visit to Beijing the day before yesterday,” Bach said. “We should not discuss this now on a wider scale on this issue in his absence in respect for our colleague.“If you agree, we will try to take contact with him again and forward these comments which have been made by Mr Berraf, Mr Lalovic and Mr Ryu to him and Fifa.”

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