The last three or four years Gianni Infantino has been attempting to present himself as a saviour figure of modern football. Sepp Blatter was gone, Platini was gone and he was here to show us that a new FIFA would emerge. He has eradicated FIFA’s racism unit as apparently that was all sorted, gave a tacit blessing to the European Super League without publicly backing it and has planned a Club World Cup to be played on a far more regular basis. But his latest plan has been coming since he left UEFA and needed to rely on the votes of other confederations to be elected, and now its here – a bi-annual World Cup which would be far larger than the current iteration. Qatar 2022 is on the horizon but FIFA plans to go to more places, more regularly and grow the game, whatever that means! Especially when it controls all the power in the world’s largest sport.

Now the World Cup means different things to different people. To my parents generation its 1966 and football actually coming home, followed by 1970 and the first World Cup in colour for some people. For me my first memory of the World Cup was travelling to primary school during Italia 90 and discussing the Dutch, the Germans and of course the bloke who used to play for us in Gazza. But if I am honest, I can’t remember the semi-final and my first proper experience was USA 94. Bulgaria and Romania with Stoichkov and Hagi, Baggio’s ponytail and Bebeto rocking the baby.

The mystique of the World Cup, rather like the Olympics is that for football fans there is a build up of excitement and focus switches very quickly from your club allegiance to whomever plays for your country. When England were awful in 2010 and 2014, you still found new teams and new stars to watch. If you ask most football fans they will have one stand out World Cup memory, so why not play it more regularly?

Well FIFA have slightly different reasons for wanting to play it more regularly. The African football federation has had its head removed and replaced with a choice of Infantino’s without an election, after a FIFA investigation which seemed to be intent on handing power back to FIFA. Nothing to do with the fact that the country has a huge amount of votes in the FIFA elections or decision-making.

Now it might also be worth mentioning that USA 94 was the beginning of the modern commercializing of the World Cup. Yes from Pele in 1970 onwards there was an attempt to make it about more than the football, but the McDonalds, Coca-Cola and other brands attached to the World Cup really stepped up during that tournament. Since then the tournament makes a huge amount of money for FIFA, in fact FIFA loses money in every non-World Cup year.

In the 2018 World Cup, hosted lest we forget in Russia, a country that is banned from competing in international athletics due to state sponsored doping and with a very questionable attitude towards democracy and human rights, FIFA made just over four and a half billion US dollars. But they lost money in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

They watch on as the best players play every year in the Champions League and then in continental football tournaments. UEFA makes significant financial gains from its deals with partners around these games, Infantino though says that the money and talent being mainly linked with this competition ‘does not serve the global … game’. Therefore he should be able to tell these clubs, and their players, where and when they should be playing games of football.

There are bigger areas that FIFA wants to address. As almost two hundred countries voted in favour of research (just over twenty against) it is worth noting that less than one hundred countries have ever played in the competition. Now the World Cup is due to have forty-eight teams that will increase probably, but FIFA say that having regular qualifiers will get rid of friendlies and mean more meaningful international games, and for some fans of less well known football nations or without a league that is seen as competitive I can immediately see the enticement.

I write this with a European bias, and with the knowledge that now the tournament is expanded the chances of England not qualifying are extremely slim. However, I am not an England fan in the main but a Newcastle United fan. We have seen all too recently how it can impact a club when a player cares more about his international opportunities, or playing at a World Cup than playing for their club. Can’t we Michael? Michael?

However, I want World Cups where I see our players play for different countries. Albert played in 94, as did Hottiger. Guivarc’h was going to be great, until we saw him play in 98. Jonas playing for Argentina under Maradona, Shola for Nigeria, Shearer scoring against Tunisia and Argentina.

How to balance this? If all continents scrap their championships then there is space in the football calendar but does this dilute the event still further. In the Champions League the groups are often awful as most people know who will win. Do we want a World Cup where the only victory is on FIFA’s balance sheet, some games become unwatchable and the competition has a whole phase nobody cares about?

Grow the game absolutely, but not at the expense of the gold standard. The World Cup is the pinnacle, be careful Gianni.

STEPHEN ORD    @smord84