FIFA are enthusiastic about organising the FIFA World Cup every two years. The issue is they are seemingly the only ones keen on this.
In an era where content is king, it is little surprise that there is always demand for more. Thus, the fact that there are talks of revamping the FIFA World Cup cycle coming from FIFA.
As things stand, the tournament is held once every four years – similar to the Olympic, which is where the four-year cycle began. But new tentative plans call for the World Cup to become a bi-annual tournament i.e. once every two years.
This would doubtless work well for the FIFA bigwigs, whose eyes are probably replaced with dollar signs at the thought of this. And the organisation are doing their best to convince everyone it’s a great revolutionary idea.
Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager and FIFA’s current chief of global football development, explained as much in a recent interview.
“We must recognise that society is demanding more and more high-stakes and emotional matches,” Wenger explained to L’Equipe.
“Even Euro 2020, which took place two months ago, seems far away. I think that the football public no longer wants the qualifiers to last a year and a half. They can be concentrated in four or five weeks.”
Of course, it is entirely possible there exist fans who think this is a good idea. But do clubs want this? Would clubs be okay with giving up their players for a whole month to international duties?
And, perhaps most importantly, are players on board with this idea? Or were they even consulted?
Let’s address the first question posed above: it would be highly unlikely clubs would want players missing for that long a time period.
For one, clubs and international federations are at odds about releasing players even now. And this is before COVID-19 brought about the complications of quarantine.
As such, it seems highly unlikely that the clubs – who, it is worth remembering actually pay the players to play – would be okay with them jetting off in the middle of the season for a month of intense qualifiers.
Ironically, Wenger himself would constantly complain about too many international games when he was Arsenal boss. Yet now he is publicly advocating adding more games. And according to him, money isn’t the issue.
“The idea is really to improve the quality of the game and the competitions, there is no financial intention behind it,” Wenger said.
Look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that more World Cups means more money. More money for hosting rights, TV rights, sponsorship, tickets… you name it, up goes the revenue.
There’s also the fact that more of something doesn’t necessarily make it better. The football calendar is saturated enough as it is. Why add more games at this point?
Especially when you consider what effect it has on the players.
We live in an era where people are more aware of the toll that the body of a professional sportsperson takes. As such, there is growing concern over the workload management of players.
At least, that’s what many would have you believe.
Take the example of Pedro Gonzalez, or Pedri as he is commonly known. The Barcelona starlet played a whopping 73 games last season for club and country. That’s an insane number, even by modern standards.
After becoming a key player at Barcelona, he starred for Spain in Euro 2020 before flying to Tokyo for the Olympics. He then flew back and joined club training as if nothing had happened.
He was finally granted a break, but the fact that he even played these many games was a cause for concern. Especially since fans have seen many a promising talent not fulfill their potential due to injury issues.
Yet that isn’t stopping FIFA from going ahead with their hare-brained scheme. Who cares about the players’ health and well-being when there’s so much money to be made?
Many players and managers alike have spoken on the need for managing game time. Instead, what we’re likely to get is burnt-out players unable to perform at their highest for their country.
Yet, as things stand, no one has publicly spoken out on the idea of doubling the number of FIFA World Cup tournaments. Perhaps they are waiting for a better time. Perhaps they simply aren’t fully aware of the details.
However, even if they do not speak out, it will be hard to imagine too many of them being fans of this idea. Yet it seems no one consulted them when coming up with this.
Most fans aren’t behind the idea either. The fan group Football Supporters Europe wrote a letter to UEFA president Alexander Ceferin last week outlining as much. “Most fans look forward to the World Cup precisely because it is a unique event that only occurs every four years.
“They do not have an unlimited amount of time, money, or enthusiasm to expend on flights, accommodation, and tickets – or TV subscriptions.”
They also poignantly pointed out the most obvious part of this entire mess. “There is no doubt that football is in desperate need of reform… but doubling the number of World Cups will not solve its problems.”