FIFA's Gianni Infantino: Other regions must challenge Europe's World Cup dominance

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the presence of European teams in the World Cup semifinals should be a sign to other regions that they need to improve.

Uruguay and Brazil were the only two non-European nations to advance to the quarterfinals, with the last remaining CONCACAF team, Mexico, knocked out by Brazil in the round of 16.

That all four semifinalists were from Europe and that no South American nation has ever won the tournament on European soil should motivate other confederations to invest in themselves, Infantino said at a news conference in Moscow on Friday.

"We have now a final this time where we have one team that has won the World Cup once [in France] and one team that's never won the World Cup [in Croatia], and I don't think that Croatia is necessarily a powerhouse of world or European football as a country, right?" Infantino said. "But they are in the final.

"So, at the end, it comes down of course to the quality of the players, and it comes down as well, I think, to the work and to the professional attitude and of course to the way of operating in football, and I think that this World Cup shows by the results and dominance of the European teams."

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Infantino stressed that the quality of the players in the European countries was a difference-maker.

"But it has shown as well some very, very good skills, and at the end, it was very tight," he said. "Belgium getting to the semifinal after having beaten Japan in the 94th minute, and having been down 2-0 [to win 3-2 in the round of 16].

"So, at the end, there are little elements which make a difference, but I think that the results of this World Cup for the other continents outside of Europe -- well, it should be a catalyst and a motivator for them to work even harder, to train, to invest in training."

Infantino said that the expansion of the tournament from 32 to 48 countries will change the panorama.

"We have now the possibilities and the means which are much more important than the past, and I'm sure that in future, we will have some other surprises as well for the World Cup," he said.

Infantino also said that having the World Cup in North America in 2026 would not hurt the candidacy of the joint 2030 bid by Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay "because they are two different confederations."

"It will have absolutely no impact, but I think that for 2030, there will be a lot of candidates and we hope to have a very proper [bidding] process such as the one we had for the 2026 World Cup," he said.

The other joint bid for 2030 is expected to come from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, and Infantino said he is a fan of joint bids because of the new 48-team format.

"This is how we avoid the so-called 'white elephants,' infrastructure that is created just for big events and then are never used again to their potential," he said. "In addition, if a joint candidacy can allow neighbouring nations who might otherwise have communication problems to work on a common project, the joint bid then would have a very positive effect."