FIFA President Gianni Infantino called Major League Soccer owners to “think big” and “be bold” to grow the league to its full potential at a gathering in Los Angeles earlier this week.

With the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup and the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, Infantino on Tuesday became the first FIFA president to attend an MLS Board of Governors meeting. The meeting is attended by all 30 ownership groups in MLS, as well as the league’s executive management team led by commissioner Don Garber.

In a ballroom at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles, Infantino spoke of his belief that MLS can be one of the best leagues in the world, multiple sources present at the meeting said, but said that to achieve those goals owners should increase their investment, noting especially the development of the academy and the first team roster.

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It was not a formal presentation, but rather a conversational approach that included a question and answer. The general secretary of FIFA, Mattias Grafström, was also present. Infantino said he had been impressed with the owners’ passion and commitment to growing the game, and growing fan bases, stadiums and infrastructure around MLS. Infantino emphasized that FIFA was not picking up and running after the tournament, but wanted to be partners in growing the game in the US.

FIFA has opened offices in Miami that will remain in place after the 2026 World Cup, and Infantino is spending more time in the U.S. He has attended many MLS games this year and attended the LA Lakers game Tuesday night with the CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, Dan Beckerman after the meetings. AEG owns LA Galaxy and was one of the first and key investors in MLS.

Infantino attended a Lakers game this week with Anschutz Entertainment Group CEO Dan Beckerman (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Infantino pointed to the U.S.’s global standing as a major economic and trade power and said MLS should aim for a similar stance in sports. He urged owners to “think big” in order to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the Club World Cup and the World Cup coming to these shores.

The 2026 World Cup is expected to be a massive boost to the sport in North America, just as it was in 1994 when it helped launch MLS. Infantino said 2026 is a possibility for “104 Super Bowls” (a reference to the number of games to be played in the newly expanded World Cup) and that the tournament could be an unprecedented catalyst for the sport. He talked about the globalization of soccer, the influence of its biggest stars and encouraged MLS owners to think about how to be among the best leagues in the world. Infantino urged owners to be bold in their approach to the league’s growth, the sources said.

Next summer’s Club World Cup is a key opportunity for MLS. It will feature at least two MLS teams and offer a chance for the league to test itself – and for fans to measure the league – against some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, too. as giants from this hemisphere, including the last four winners of South America’s Copa Libertadores.

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of Seattle Sounders have qualified for the tournament as winners of the 2022 CONCACAF Champions Cup. MLS will send another team as the “host nation” of the tournament. Only one MLS team, The crew of Columbusremains alive in this year’s CONCACAF Champions Cup, the winner of which will also qualify for the tournament.

Infantino spoke briefly to reporters after meeting with MLS owners.

“I was very happy for the first time that the president of FIFA is coming to an MLS meeting of this nature,” said Infantino. “We have great events coming up here in North America with the new Club World Cup next year, the World Cup in ’26, so a lot of promotion for football or soccer as we call it. It is important to work together to promote the game in North America and around the world and from that perspective for me, it was very interesting and I look forward to continuing to work together.”

Garber hinted at Infantino’s message on Tuesday when asked about the FIFA president’s presence at the meeting.

“Gianni got up to the dais and just expressed his views on where the sport is in our country, his views on Major League Soccer and the impact we’ve made on the growth of the game, both at the fan level, which has been significant. but certainly our commitment and investment in infrastructure and in growing a supportive culture,” said Garber. “And I think he has very strong views that this is just the beginning of a journey where MLS can continue to develop and grow with the right level of investment and the right level of support to reach really incredible new heights .”

(Photo: NORBERTO DUARTE / AFP) (Photo by NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

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