Former Arsenal manager and now FIFA Chief Arsene Wenger has made a proposition for the World Cup to be held every two years. He claims the move is not financially related but It’s a plan in motion to guarantee much-needed rest periods for players in the long run.
The plan, which was a projection of Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation (SAFF), gathered a lot of support at football’s governing body’s Annual Congress. However, some stakeholders frowned at the idea, especially those who are accustomed to the old version of the competition.
Arsene mapped out the rationale behind the proposal to not only upsurge the regularity of World Cups but also re-design the international schedules in such a way that fits all elements of the game.
It would mean additional major tournaments but few international breaks, more opportunities for eligible countries to host a World Cup, and clubs suffering less interference from international fixtures.
Wenger when interviewed referred to injury to Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski last season as a reason why the current international schedule is unfavorable to players. He reiterated that “I always had the feeling that, many abrupt breaks were rather disadvantageous for the players”.
This cannot be better explained without beaming the light on plans that are already in the implementation stage. FIFA president Gianni Infantino engenders bigger World Cups – the 2026 edition in the United States would most likely be the one, Mexico and Canada will be the first 48-nation tournament.
He also said that the international game would reclaim some of the financial power, commercial advantage, and status of the club game.
Holding World Cups every 2 years, as well as continental football championships in the intervening years, would guarantee a fixed annual slot in the football schedule for the international game to dominate the agenda.
There is also a preponderance of ideas within FIFA that the four-year World Cup cycle is an old fashioned and outdated model, an anachronism in a world paddled by social media and 24-hour news, and that younger onlooker, observers, and sponsors desire a more high-quality Mundial rather than having to be patient for four years for World Cups to come around.
There are scores of nations, Saudi Arabia inclusive, who desire a shot at hosting the most-watched and decorated football competition, the World Cup.
Approving the idea of staging one every two years interval would enable FIFA to clear the backlog of nations including China, England, Morocco, Spain, Argentina, and a host of other countries smitten to the ideas or who could otherwise want to stage a World Cup on home soil.
Wenger’s proposition is focused on the men’s game and untangling the congested calendar. There is also a proposal to stage a biennial World Cup in the Lady’s game.
Infantino said “We don’t desire to copy what the men are doing. We want something different for women and for the women’s game, “We need to get those creative juices flowing.”
The UEFA hierarchy, on the other hand, see the plan as nothing less than a way to suppress the European power within the world game.
UEFA president Ceferin voiced his “grave concerns” concerning the proposal and accused the world football’s governing body, FIFA of launching a “public relations campaign” without carrying along with other confederations or national leagues.
Europe is indeed the terrain of football powerhouses of the world game. They have leading domestic leagues with players all over the world plying their trade there with the richest clubs being owned and sponsored by rich establishments and also the Champions League.
This gives UEFA unparalleled dominance. It’d be 20 years in 2022 since a non-European nation last won the World Cup (Brazil in 2002).
But the persistent financial reliance of major European clubs on sponsors and owners from Asia – namely Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, China – and the U.S. has repositioned the balance of power and given the football governing body – FIFA the ample opportunity to lobby support for a radical alteration of the international calendar.
The African Confederation (CAF) are also in support of the idea and there is persisting support in Asia, so UEFA has a battle on its hands.
Those who are ingrained with the usual idea of four years World Cup edition may find this strange. However, some ideas and big propositions like this from the start don’t always sound enticing. Would it be a success? It’s left to be seen.