PARIS (Dispatches) - FIFA risks plunging the world of football into a new conflict with its proposal to hold the World Cup every two years instead of four, raising the possibility of a divorce with leading clubs and the powerful European leagues.
The proposal, first floated in the 1990s, was revived in March by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now head of football development at FIFA.
In May, FIFA President Gianni Infantino agreed, at the request of the Saudi football federation, to launch a “feasibility study” into the proposal, making it clear that he is open to reforming the international calendar.
With Wenger saying he hopes the consultation process will be completed by the end of the year, the powerful European leagues have stepped up their opposition.
FIFA’s central argument is that a biennial World Cup would create more profits that could be distributed to federations in Africa, Asia and South America, who have a greater reliance on FIFA funds than the wealthy European leagues.
Wenger says the idea would be to have a final phase every summer from 2025-2026, alternating World Cups and continental tournaments like the European Championships and Copa America. Qualifying matches would be grouped together in October, or in October and March.
He refutes the argument that the players would face increased strain, arguing that they would have to make fewer long journeys and would have a minimum of 25 days rest after playing in summer tournaments for their countries.
“Today’s calendar is outdated,” Wenger said. “We want to organise it in a more efficient way.”
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is fiercely opposed to the proposal and threatened that European nations and South American powerhouses like Brazil and Argentina would boycott a biennial World Cup.