Jose Mourinho has given his backing to FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino, who has reaffirmed his desire to explore staging a World Cup in multiple countries.
UEFA general secretary Infantino is one of five hopefuls seeking to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of world football’s governing body at an extraordinary congress on February 26.
Former Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid coach Mourinho appeared alongside Infantino at Wembley Stadium on Monday to endorse his campaign.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” the Portuguese said.
“I know that he’s very capable, very experienced, [has] complete knowledge of everything around football and this organisation. I think he’s the one. I support him with a real feeling that I’m supporting someone that can do very well.”
Infantino, meanwhile, again made the case for FIFA to follow UEFA’s example and look to share the financial burden of hosting a major tournament, the regional governing body having staged joint European Championships in Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and Poland and Ukraine four years later.
“What I’m … proposing is to at least study the possibility of organising the World Cup in several countries,” he said.
“We’re making the Euros in 2020 in 13 different countries in Europe. I think we don’t have to exclude the vast majority of countries in the world from the dream of being able to organise at least part of a World Cup together with other countries. We can organise a Euros in 13 countries and organise a World Cup in four, five, six countries.
“We have to be a little bit more responsible on how we are dealing with these questions in the future. It’s not anymore responsible to ask and to pretend from one single country – I can accept if it’s a huge country – to build all these facilities, all these stadiums, the airport[s], which in the end become white elephants and nobody is using them.”
FIFA has been rocked by the corruption scandal that has seen numerous high-ranking current and former officials arrested since May.
Blatter, the subject of investigations by Swiss authorities and the FBI in the United States, was last month banned from all football-related activities for eight years by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee over an alleged disloyal payment made to UEFA president Michel Platini, who has also been suspended.
Infantino, Platini’s right-hand man at the European governing body, called for the positive contribution of Blatter to be remembered, but acknowledged that the disgraced 79-year-old should have stepped down from his role earlier.
“I respect very much all the work he [Blatter] did in terms of football development in particular around the world and this comes through when you travel in the world as well,” Infantino added.
“I think [we] need to recognise that FIFA in the last 40 years has undergone great development.
“I think Mr Blatter said it himself, he probably should have stepped back a little bit earlier. He missed the right point.”
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