PRESIDENT SPEAKS: Infantino hails best ever World Cup

Amol Gokhale
Saturday, 14 July 2018

In his opening address, Infantino, 48, hailed the world cup in Russia as the best ever World Cup to be hosted as he backed his statement with the statistical data.

MOSCOW: When you expect a FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, to walk in for the press conference, the general perception is that he will come all decked up. On Friday, the President of football’s World Governing body addressed the media in the Press Conference room of the Luzhniki Stadium for an hour and 17 minutes wearing an attractive Red Zipper written ‘Volunteer’ on the back. 

Wearing the uniform, what Volunteers have been donning for past month, welcoming everyone with a smile on their faces, Infantino acknowledged the irreplaceable contribution of the volunteers, before placing his official ‘Thank you note’ to over 100,00 volunteers, people of Russia, the Government of Russia and President of the country Vladimir Putin.

In his opening address, Infantino, 48, hailed the world cup in Russia as the best ever World Cup to be hosted as he backed his statement with the statistical data.

“A couple of years ago, I said this would be the World Cup ever. Today, I can say that with a new conviction. It is the best World Cup ever,” he told reporters. “We had 98 per cent stadium occupancy, more than one million fans travelling from abroad, more than three billion viewers on TV. 

In FIFA’s digital channels, content has been viewed more than 11 billion times, there were seven million visitors to the fan fests, great success with VAR, and anti-doping has delivered unprecedented tests and so far, touch wood, zero positive results,” he added,

The fact that the question related to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was the very last question, brought a little smile on the face of the President, as he opened his response stating that, this is the very last question shows that VAR has been accepted and working well. But the biggest statement that one can pick out from his answer is, ‘VAR means the end of an offside goal.’ 

“The results are extremely clear and extremely positive,” he said. “Over 440 checks so far, 19 reviews in the 62 matches, there were 16 decisions changed from a wrong decision to a right decision, so when you check vocabulary and the word ‘progress’, means to make things better compared to the past. This is progress, this is better than the past,” he added.

“VAR is not changing football, it is cleaning football, making it more honest and transparent and helping referees to make the right decisions. The goal scored from an offside position is finished in football, at least in football with VAR,” he added.

“You will never see any more a goal scored in an offside position, it’s finished because either you are or are not offside, these are clear decisions,” he signed off.

- The footballing world has had all their eyes on Russia but was worried at the same time when the news came of 12 Thai boys and their football coach were trapped in the caves after incessant rains trapped them inside.
- After the humongous efforts put in by British divers and the Thai Navy SEAL, all 13 were rescued safety earlier this week.
- FIFA President Infantino had invited the boys to the World Cup final to be played on Sunday, but FIFA clarified that due to their health conditions, they will not be attending the final.
- When ‘Sakal Times’ asked the President if the boys will get another opportunity to attend a FIFA event, Infantino said that they will be invited to come to London, where the world’s best player prize will be presented on September 24, before adding that FIFA will look at involving the team in another soccer event, possibly in Thailand.
- “The whole was watching and praying.. it touched not only football but whole the world, it touched us more because it was a football team. It was thanks to god, there was a happy end, but unfortunately, they cannot come to the final. We will invite them for Best player awards in September in London,” said the President, as he did not forget about the diver who lost his life in a bid to save the lives of the children and offered his condolences to his family and friends.

- Former UEFA General Secretary, Infantino, was also asked about the antics by Brazil superstar Neymar but the President only had praise for the player and avoided any controversial statement by a laughter as he ensured that there is nothing in it for journalists to make a news about.
- “He is a great player… He is a real talent… When I’m in front of such gifted players, who make us all dream, I cannot say any negative words about them. Neymar is one of these top legends… He will show us much more of his skills in the future, I’m sure,” he added, before laughing off any further query by the members of the media.

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