AFP

Infantino calls for multiple World Cup hosts, talks down threat of violence in Russia

The expanded World Cup in 2026 could be hosted by as many as four countries, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has suggested as many as four countries could jointly stage the expanded World Cup in 2026 and claimed to be unconcerned about the threat of fan violence in Russia in 2018.

Football's international governing body last month voted to increase the number of teams competing in the quadrennial tournament from 32 to 48, significantly adding to the infrastructural and logistical demands upon any country hoping to host the event.

Japan and South Korea are the only nations to have jointly staged the competition, doing so in 2002.

The European Championship has been shared between two countries on three occasions, in 2000, 2008 and 2012, while Euro 2020 will be split across numerous locations on the continent.

And Infantino, who helped to push through that decision during his time at UEFA, has now flagged the likelihood of the World Cup following a similar pathway.  

"We will encourage co-hosting for the World Cup because we need FIFA to show we are reasonable and we have to think about sustainability long-term," Infantino said in Doha. 

"It is perfectly in line with our sustainability and legacy to maybe bring together two, three, four countries who can jointly present a project with three, four, five stadiums each.

"We will certainly encourage it. Ideally the countries will be close to each other for the sake of ease of travel."

The FIFA president, who succeeded the disgraced Sepp Blatter 12 months ago, also brushed off concerns about the potential for fan violence at the next World Cup, after Russian supporters were accused of sparking significant issues at Euro 2016 in France.

"I'm not concerned about trouble and violence in 2018," he said.

"I have full confidence in [the] Russian authorities, they are taking this matter very, very seriously.

"They have been in contact with UEFA and French organisers to learn the lessons from France and this matter is being taken in the utmost seriousness by all.

"As part of this, the Russian government has put in place an ID system which will help us when it comes to any potential trouble. We need to be wary about spreading rumours about hooligans."

Finally, Infantino confirmed he is seeking to implement the use of video technology to assist match officials in making decisions at the next World Cup, but other potential rules changes remain a long-term prospect only. 

"The proposal on the table is about using video technology to help referees," he said.

"I'm really hopeful that for the World Cup in 2018 we can have a video system to help the referee take the right decisions.

"We discuss and debate everything, the offside rule, sin bins as punishments, additional substitutions, but these are discussions that are still far, far, far away from any concrete proposals."