World Cup 2022: FIFA president Gianni Infantino hits out at TV offers for men’s, women’s events

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Saturday criticised television broadcasters who have offered “100 times less” to screen the Women’s World Cup compared to the men’s.Infantino was speaking in Auckland hours before the draw for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and with women’s football breaking new ground.The World Cup in July-August will have 32 teams for the first time and global interest is anticipated to be at an all-time high.But without naming specific broadcasters, Infantino said offers submitted for the television rights were far too low.“Broadcasters offer us 100 times less than what they offer us for the men’s World Cup,” Infantino told reporters.He accused television companies of “pushing us to do more for equality and at the same time we are not going to accept these offers”.Infantino said that FIFA had invested one billion dollars into women’s football in recent years.The 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cups made a financial loss, but Infantino said: “The next World Cup will cost us around $400 million and we hope to break even.” For the first time, FIFA plans to sell the commercial rights separate from the men’s tournament.“We are trying to commercialise the Women’s World Cup for the first time on its own,” he said.The FIFA boss also doubled down on assurances that gay fans who travel to Qatar for the men’s World Cup next month will be safe, despite homosexuality being a criminal offence there.“I have said it (before), I repeat it — whatever nationality, background, gender, sexual orientation, everyone is welcome in Qatar,” Infantino said.Infantino also confirmed that the FIFA Clearing House, aimed at regulating the extra payments around transfer fees, will come into force on November 16.“This will finally bring some transparency and accountability into the whole transfer market,” Infantino said. “Payments to strange places or strange bank accounts will not be tolerated any more.” He said the transfer market currently generates about six to seven billion dollars every year and predicts the figure will rise.“We want to control that and make sure the money goes where it is supposed to.”RONALDO AXED BY MAN UTD AFTER EPL TANTRUM Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United has been plunged into fresh doubt after he was dropped from the squad for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea following his tantrum against Tottenham.Ronaldo stormed down the Old Trafford tunnel with several minutes remaining in United’s 2-0 win over Tottenham on Wednesday.The 37-year-old star reportedly told United manager Erik ten Hag that he did not want to come on as a late substitute.Ten Hag said after the Tottenham match that he would “deal with” the issue on Thursday and Ronaldo was seen driving into United’s Carrington training headquarters before the announcement of his punishment.It was not the first time Ronaldo had shown public dissent at his role in Ten Hag’s team’s and the United manager has finally responded by wielding the axe.“Cristiano Ronaldo will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday’s Premier League game against Chelsea. The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture,” a United statement said on Thursday.It is believed Ten Hag’s decision to remove Ronaldo from the squad has the full backing of the United hierarchy.United chiefs are said to be weighing up a decision on Ronaldo’s long-term future after the disciplinary issue.But whether there can be a way back for the unhappy Portugal striker remains to be seen.United would have to wait until the transfer window reopens on January 1 before they could sell Ronaldo, whose huge salary could prove a stumbling block to potential buyers.Disappointed by United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, Ronaldo has been trying to engineer a move away from Old Trafford since the end of last season.The former Real Madrid and Juventus star had hoped to join a club in the Champions League, but he found offers from Europe’s elite hard to come by.Ronaldo missed United’s pre-season tour to Australia and Asia for “family reasons” before making another show of frustration in a friendly against Rayo Vallecano.Playing under Ten Hag for the first time, Ronaldo was substituted at half-time and responded by leaving Old Trafford before the match had finished.Ronaldo also reacted badly when he was substituted by Ten Hag in last weekend’s draw against Newcastle.Ten Hag has rarely trusted Ronaldo as his main striker since arriving from Ajax to take charge in the close-season.Ronaldo, a five-time Champions League winner with Real and United, has started only two Premier League games this season, also making six substitute appearances and scoring only one goal.He also has four Europa League starts and one goal in the second tier competition he was so keen to avoid after United finished outside the Premier League’s top four last term.Since rejoining United from Juventus in 2021, Ronaldo has been a shadow of the figure who starred in his first stint at the club from 2003 to 2009.The five-time Ballon d’Or winner did finish as United’s top-scorer last season with 24 goals, but he never appeared settled, clashing with former bosses Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick.The final straw came when Ten Hag sent on Christian Eriksen and Anthony Elanga ahead of Ronaldo in the 87th minute against Tottenham.United still had two substitutions remaining when Ronaldo stormed off. Ten Hag’s decision to drop him from the Chelsea game underlines how he viewed Ronaldo’s show of petulance and potentially started a countdown to the end of his time at Old Trafford.SOCCEROOS STAR RACING THE CLOCK AFTER INJURY BLOW – Russell GouldSocceroos star Ajdin Hrustic is in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup in Qatar after an ankle injury was confirmed by his Italian club Hellas Verona.Hrustic was a lock to be included in coach Graham Arnold’s final squad having been arguably Australia’s best player over the course of the qualifying campaign.The midfielder moved from German club Eintracht Frankfurt to Verona, and was part of the starting side in last weekend’s 2-1 loss against AC Milan in the Serie A before suffering the injury.Hellas Verona confirmed the 26-year-old had avoided surgery but he’s still expected to be sidelined for several weeks.With the World Cup kicking off in Qatar in one month, Hrustic could struggle to be ready for the Socceroos’ group stage opener against France on November 23.Arnold will first have to name a preliminary list of up to 55 players by this Friday and has some decisions to make after Hrustic’s injury. He will then need to finalise a 26-man group no later than November 14.He may also have to consider star defender Harry Souttar who made his return from an ACL injury earlier this week for Stoke City’s Under 21s.The Socceroos boss is also keeping a close eye on several young A-League stars who have caught his attention.He said it was important to take players that were fit and firing to Qatar.“The younger players are really stepping up and giving me something to think about,” he told SEN.“All I can do is keep watching and make sure that when we do go to this World Cup, we’ve got the players that are fit enough and ready enough to back up every three days and be there for their performance.”Australia has been placed in Group D alongside France, Tunisia and Denmark. TEQUILA BAN: WORLD CUP WARNING TO MEXICOTens of thousands of Mexicans heading to Qatar have been warned to leave the tequila at home as authorities seek to avoid a World Cup culture clash in the Muslim Gulf state.Fans from the Latin American nation are expected to make up one of the largest — and most exuberant — contingents of foreign supporters.“We like to sing, drink and dance all the time,” said superfan Hector Chavez — better known as Caramelo — who has attended 10 World Cups in his trademark sombrero.Fun-loving Mexicans are welcome in Doha provided they respect a few rules, said the businessman, named by the emirate as a fan “ambassador.” “It’s forbidden to bring alcohol into Qatar,” said Chavez, who will celebrate his 60th birthday in the Middle Eastern nation, where drinking in public is normally illegal.Alcohol will be sold at special zones around the eight tournament stadiums before and after games, in a FIFA fan zone and some specially designated areas.But the price of beer — several times more expensive than in Mexico — might be hard for the country’s fans to swallow.Chavez has tried to anticipate any possible trouble with rival fans in the small peninsula nation, where Mexico will face Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia in the group stage.“I know the representative of the Argentinian supporters. If anything happens, I can call him to calm his troops,” he said.Mexico expects 80,000 of its citizens to visit Qatar.They have paid between $14,000 and $20,000 each for a package including flights, accommodation and tickets to the three group-stage matches, according to the Mexican travel agents association.“Many fans save for four years to be able to attend the World Cup,” said its president, Eduardo Paniagua Morales.