FIFA will hold discussions with its member Federations, Football clubs, leagues, and the players’ unions, at the end of this month, to discuss on organizing a biennial Men’s World Cup.
The world governing body of Football, FIFA, is pushing to organize a Men’s World Cup, after every couple of years, thereby halving the previous duration of four years between editions. All the 211 member Federations have received an online invitation to discuss the possibility of organizing a biennial Men’s World Cup, including the future of national Football teams.
FIFA has already sought approval once this month (for the first time) from a list of retired players. The list includes the World Cup winners who had traveled to Qatar for a 2-day conference and commissioned fan surveys in a few selected countries. FIFA released a statement that read, “A ‘new phase of consultation’ will start with organizations representing players, clubs, leagues and the six continental governing bodies.” The man leading the changes proposed by FIFA is Arsene Wenger. The former Gunners manager now holds the post of global development director for world soccer. According to his suggestion, they could have a decision ready by December.
FIFPRO criticized this process as flawed. FIFPRO is the global union for active players and is scheduled to have a meeting with FIFA. UEFA, the European football governing body, has issued a warning that it could boycott if the World Cup is changed from the four-year cycle. UEFA’s South American counterpart, the CONMEBOL, has also opposed the idea of a biennial World Cup. The opposition has mainly focused on diluting the World Cup’s appeal, distorting the balance between international and domestic Football, and forcing players into an extremely crowded schedule. Moreover, the prestige of UEFA’s European Championship, and CONMEBOL’s Copa America, is also at risk with excess World Cups.
However, despite their members enjoying huge dominance in the World Cups on the field, even their combined number accounts for less than a third of the 211 Federations who vote. FIFA has argued that organizing biennial World Cups will provide more players and teams with the chance to compete in meaningful games. This in turn will result in the global improvement of talents and even more, money to conduct development programmes.
The biennial World Cup debate has heated up so much that it has overshadowed the ongoing review of the FIFA-managed International Match Calendars. The calendars mandate the times when clubs are obligated to release players for national team duty. The men’s calendar will be expiring in 2024 and it has been broadly agreed that the present system is outdated. In the current system, players are required to travel for matches in separate windows, a minimum of 4 times during each domestic season.
FIFA has proposed to streamline the calendar to accommodate smaller tournament qualifying groups. This means potentially playing all matches in one block in October. On the other hand, the women’s calendar will expire in 2023, when they have their next edition of the World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand. Last week the German Football Federation said that Women’s Football could get crowded out due to clashes forced out of having an excess number of Men’s World Cups.