Biennial World Cup on agenda at FIFA Congress

By AFP   May 20, 2021 | 07:03 pm PT
Biennial World Cup on agenda at FIFA Congress
Players of France national football team celebrate World Cup title in 2018. Photo courtesy of FIFA.
A World Cup held every two years is set to be discussed by football's bigwigs on Friday when FIFA holds its latest Congress.

The proposal has been put on the agenda of the global governing body's latest summit by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation which is close to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Discussion of a possible "feasibility study" of a World Cup every two years instead of four is likely to concern national leagues and clubs who are seeing player burnout in an already packed calendar.

It comes after FIFA's football development chief Arsene Wenger suggested in March that the World Cup, the European Championship and other international tournaments be held every two years.

It was an idea immediately dubbed "unrealistic" by European Leagues, a body which groups 37 leagues and club associations in Europe, but still featured in a report carried out by Wenger and released last week.

Clubs risk their players picking up more injuries with such a dense calendar, while the economic benefits are also uncertain, according to Raffaele Poli, head of the CIES Football Observatory.

"One should be aware of the risk of making a product less prestigious by making it less rare," Poli told AFP.

Poli also warned that a proliferation of international tournaments would eat away at the value of broadcast rights for both domestic championships and continental club competitions.

As ever Infantino has stayed vague on the concept, saying at the end of March that he was open to any ideas for the post-2024 football calendar and earlier this month promising "interesting discussions" on Wenger's proposals.

His priority remains making room for an expanded, 24-team Club World Cup which has been opposed by Europe's UEFA and South American governing body Conmebol and was put on ice by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Changes to the UEFA Champions League, which will take effect from 2024, will add 100 games to the European football calendar, and Poli suggests that the World Cup proposal will be used as a "negotiating position" to make room for the Club World Cup.

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