When the idea of a biennial World Cup was first introduced by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, it seemed like it would be shut down immediately and never mentioned again.
A World Cup cycle that would involve continental qualifying campaigns and a 48-team final tournament seemed like a joke. However, we have somehow reached the stage where it appears as though FIFA are going to push the idea.
Who would be behind such a strange idea, that would completely change the football calendar as we know it around the world?
Well, aside from Infantino, FIFA’s chief of global development Arsene Wenger, Avram Grant, Jay-Jay Okocha and Michael Owen plus the national football federations from Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
In fact, there are over 80 different former players and managers who are behind the prospect of playing a World Cup every two years.
So, the idea has gone from being only a thought to a plan that FIFA seem determined to make happen. Football, following on from the European Super League, now has another huge fight on its hands over the next year to protect the game as we know and love.
In terms of those who are against the idea of a biennial World Cup, we have UEFA, numerous professional clubs, players, players’ unions, and fans’ unions. So ,there is plenty of opposition within football to the idea of a World Cup every two years but will it be enough to stop it from happening?
Looking at the prospect of a World Cup every two years, it is going to be extremely tough on the players. The World Leagues Forum, which includes the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 said, it “firmly opposes” a biennial World Cup, which it believes would “dilute the historical and traditional values of a competition that means so much to fans and players”.
UEFA said it wrote a letter to FIFA on the 14th of September asking for a consultation, but had not received a reply. This is contrary to what FIFA are saying and they state all confederations have been approached for discussions regarding the plan.
UEFA have cited a number of reasons why they are against the plan, including the lack of prestige a World Cup every two years would bring, the demand on players, the lack of regular matches for lower ranked nations, and the impact on women’s football.
The International Match Calendar, which governs when games are played expires in 2024 and therefore, both sides of the argument need to come up with a solution quickly.
There may be some sort of compromise, as is often the case in this type of scenario but shouldn’t the final vote fall with the players?
They will be the people who ultimately make the tournament happen, whether it be in the current format or every two years.
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