FIFA, football’s global governing body, is reportedly considering the possibility of taking over or buying the Stade de France in Paris.
French newspaper L’Équipe, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that FIFA president Gianni Infantino and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the matter during a meeting at the Élysée Palace on February 15.
FIFA denied any interest when contacted by L’Équipe but the newspaper has claimed that Macron and Infantino first discussed the possibility during the recent World Cup in Qatar. Noël Le Graët, who earlier this week stepped down as president of the French Football Federation (FFF) amid reports of mismanagement at the body, is also said to be involved in the discussions.
The Stade de France hosts matches played by France’s national football and rugby union teams and will also be used during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris next year.
Last month, it emerged that the stadium would be off limits for sporting and entertainment events for the entirety of 2024 heading into the Games, leaving the likes of the FFF and the French Rugby Federation (FFR) needing to secure alternative venues.
The stadium is currently owned by the French Government through the Consortium Stade de France. Through an agreement with the consortium formed by construction firms Vinci and Bouygues, the state granted the management of the 77,083-capacity stadium to the two companies in 1995.
The contract with Vinci and Bouygues is set to end in the summer of 2025 and L’Équipe has reported that FIFA would be interested in buying the stadium for around €600m (£532m/$636m), excluding renovation costs. Infantino is said to be keen on securing a stadium for FIFA to host high-profile matches or fixtures involving countries that do not have modern facilities.
In November, it emerged that Paris Saint-Germain was considering acquiring the Stade de France if it is unable to complete a deal to purchase Parc des Princes, but in January the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo rubbished suggestions that the Stade de France could be an alternative home for the club.