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Mon, Sep

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PRESIDENT Anthony Carmona yesterday pitched his hopes for the development of national and regional football to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, during the latter's courtesy call on the Office of the President.

Infantino, who first visited Trinidad and Tobago while campaigning, was yesterday praised by Carmona for taking a holistic and transparent approach and for demonstrating that academia and sport can go hand in hand—given that Infantino is a qualified attorney.

Carmona held a short audience with Infantino, during which he expressed a wish to see the game develop not just nationally but also regionally. Carmona said he would like to see the development of a junior Caribbean football league, which Infantino said he could look into.

Infantino said he had come in at a difficult time for FIFA but noted that it's a “different FIFA”, as well as a different CONCACAF. He said there are many with a passion for football and that maybe some of his predecessors had lost sight of the vision.

Carmona also appealed to Infantino to use his position to bring top-class international football to local and regional arenas by convincing the top European teams to play in the Caribbean in the off-season.

Infantino noted the suggestion and said there definitely needed to be the breaking down of borders that had been built-up.

Also present yesterday was Sports Minister Darryl Smith and T&T senior coach Dennis Lawrence, as well as pupils from the football teams of several secondary schools.

In response to a question from one student as to FIFA's decision to increase the number of World Cup teams from 32 to 48, which starts with the 2026 tournament, Infantino again stated that the move will boost football in smaller countries and said that for countries like T&T, it increases the chance of qualifying for the tournament.