Gianni Infantino is seeking a third term as FIFA President and now has CONMEBOL's backing ©Getty Images

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has given its backing to FIFA President Gianni Infantino's re-election campaign. 

Infantino attended a CONMEBOL Council meeting in Paraguay this week, where he was assured of the South American body's unanimous support in next year's election.

The Swiss-Italian official is up for re-election at the FIFA Congress in Rwanda on March 16 2023, and so far has no challengers.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have already offered Infantino their backing, although it remains possible individual CONMEBOL, CAF or AFC members could vote against the bloc should a challenger emerge.

CONMEBOL's backing comes with four of its members - Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay - bidding for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

They face competition from a joint Spain-Portugal-Ukraine bid, while Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Greece have also held talks over a joint bid.

Morocco - unsuccessful in bidding for the 2026 tournament and jettisoned from the Iberian proposal - may also bid again.

CONMEBOL's backing of Infantino is also significant because it, along with European body UEFA, had been among the most vocal critics of the proposal to stage a World Cup every two years.

The idea has lost momentum and Infantino has sought in recent months to distance himself and FIFA from an idea, formally proposed by Saudi Arabia, which he had said "would work" and lead to international matches having a "greater impact."

CONMEBOL has offered Gianni Infantino its unanimous backing ©Getty Images
CONMEBOL has offered Gianni Infantino its unanimous backing ©Getty Images

FIFA had claimed staging World Cups every two years would deliver an additional $4.4 billion (£3.9 billion/€4.5 billion) in revenue in the first four-year cycle, after calling a global summit to discuss the proposal.

The debate over staging the World Cup every two years has been one of the dominant themes of Infantino's second term as FIFA President, as well as this year's contentious tournament in Qatar which has been moved from its traditional slot in the northern hemisphere's summer because of climate concerns.

Criticism of Qatar's record on human rights has also coloured the build-up to the tournament.

Infantino's ties with Russia, the 2018 host, and Saudi Arabia have caused concern in some quarters over whether he is fit to serve as President.  

The choice of Rwanda as Congress host has done little to alleviate criticism that FIFA does not take a commitment to upholding human rights seriously.

Infantino was first elected FIFA President in February 2016 in the wake of the corruption scandal which brought down predecessor Sepp Blatter.  

The 52-year-old, who is now an International Olympic Committee member, then won a second term when he stood unopposed for re-election at a Congress in Paris in 2019.   

Infantino's tenure as President has also included the men's FIFA World Cup expanding to 48 teams from 2026.  

Next year's Women's World Cup will be the first to feature 32 teams rather than 24.