FIFA president Gianni Infantino sat down with beIN SPORTS for a wide-ranging conversation ahead of Thursday's Club World Cup final in Doha, Qatar.
UEFA Champions League holders Bayern Munich will battle with CONCACAF champions Tigres UNAL for the honor of being crowned the winner of the first global tournament since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Infantino discussed the importance of the tournament in the context of COVID-19 before touching on a number of other topics, including concussion protocols, women referees, and his thoughts about proposals to begin a European Super League.
Holding the Club World Cup during a pandemic
"Of course it is very difficult, but I am very proud that we were able to set up the new Club World Cup which is the first global tournament since the outbreak of the pandemic.
"It's important to send the message to the world that football is back to life... and this has only been possible thanks to the incredible work here in Qatar.
"Of course we wanted 100% capacity but with 30% the atmosphere has been great.
FIFA's role in combatting COVID-19
"It is important that an organization takes its role in a very responsible way.
"We have been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) since March 11th, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
"We started a collaboration by putting football at the disposal of WHO to send out messages... we have run many campaigns with legends of the game.
"And here, at the Club World Cup, we have started the Act Together campaign which promotes fair access to the vaccine.
"It's important that we defeat the virus and get vaccinated, and football and football players are certainly an important interlocutor to communicate this message."
On testing positive for COVID-19
"I think I received more messages after it became know I had the virus than when I was elected FIFA president."
On introducing concussion protocols
"The additional substitution for concussions was decided at International Football Association Board (IFAB) meeting last year.
"This goes hand-in-hand with the introduction of five substitutions: the health of players.
"Players are the most important asset and we need to protect them."
Women officiating men's games
[Context: Edina Alves Batista became the first female referee to take charge of game at the Club World Cup last week.]
"It was not just a symbolic gesture. Edina and her team of assistants did a fantastic job, and they are here on merit.
"Of course we want to break down more barriers and have more women referees because it sends an important message to the world."
The specter of a European Super League
"We have to look at how football is constituted at the different levels - the national, the international, the global - and the evolution of the sport.
"50 years ago, football was mainly national, and didn't even exist in some parts of the world.
"Then it developed at a continental level, and now there is a global dimension.
"From FIFA's point of view, we need to monitor the evolution and find the best scheduling solutions, all while respecting the structures that still exist.
"FIFA, as the governing body of the world, [followed by] the federations, national associations, leagues, and clubs. But all together.
"We have to develop football together. Football belongs to all the people of the world."
Preparations for the 2022 World Cup
"Everything has impressed me in Qatar.
"How this country has evolved [since I first came here 15 years ago] is astonishing.
"What has impressed me most is the quality of the delivery. When Qatar says it will do something, you can be sure it will get done.
"In spite of COVID-19, we have never been better prepared for a World Cup."