FIFA President Gianni Infantino holds a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, November 23, 2017 – REUTERS/ Osman Orsal
BUENOS AIRES, April 12 (Reuters) - FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday that companies had shown an interest in backing an expanded Club World Cup and indicated that soccer's world governing body was already moving towards a grander version of the annual tournament.
Reports in the New York Times and Financial Times this week said a group of companies had offered as much as $25 billion to create international tournaments for FIFA.
They said investors from the United States, China, Japan, and the Middle East were among those discussing proposals to expand the Club World Cup, which involves continental champions, and create a new league competition for national teams.
"For two years we have been talking about a Club World Cup with 24 teams, more inclusive and with more respect for the international calendar, with fewer games," Infantino told reporters at the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) annual conference.
"We have studied it, we have spoken to the (FIFA decision-making) Council. We want to do something that people like... there are companies that are interested and that is a good sign that there is interest.
"The question is not if we have to do a more significant Club World Cub but rather why it hasn't been done until now. It's time to do it."
The Club World Cup is an annual event that sees seven clubs, usually the winners of the continental tournaments, compete in a knock-out format.
Morocco, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates are among the nations that have hosted the tournament in recent years, with Spain's Real Madrid having won three of the last four editions.
European soccer's governing body UEFA said Infantino had mentioned what it called "an alleged offer to buy some rights" at a FIFA Council Meeting in Bogota last month.
"We can confirm that the FIFA president mentioned an alleged offer to buy some rights at the FIFA Council meeting in Bogota. UEFA said in a statement.
"As Gianni Infantino did not provide any concrete details on what such an offer would entail and which entity would have been behind it, we have no comment to make on the topic."