“The World Cup is a very important way to measure the good players and the great ones. It is a test of a great player.” – Pele.
“To go to a World Cup is a dream come true, and I can claim to have experienced that four times.” – Ronaldo
The World cup is every player’s dream. To grace the stadium wearing your country’s colors, singing your national anthem, and having countrymen and fans cheer you on is amazing. What makes the World cup so great and why is it the most prestigious completion in the world? Well, the answer isn’t far-fetched. The world cup is a football competition held every four years in different major cities of the host country. However, there has been a controversy.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger came up with an idea that the world cup should be hosted every two years and this has caused an uproar as people ask themselves if the idea to host the prestigious competition every two years is money-oriented or it’s FIFA’s way of helping countries with no chance of qualifying for the tournament have a lifeline.
FIFA’s Two-Year World Cup Proposal
The FIFA suggestion is a strategy to hold the World Cup every two years. As it stands, the World Cup is held every four years, as it has since 1930. The proposal was originally floated by Saudi Arabia but is now spearheaded by Arsene Wenger who works as FIFA’s Head of Global Football Development.
The proposal has stirred debate around the world, with fans, coaches, players, and whole continental governing bodies taking sides. It’s an idea that is rumored to be approved by 166 of the 210 member federations of FIFA. Infantino recently disclosed that he believed the majority of associations would vote in favor of it though no vote has been planned.
Opposition To The Plan
Opposition to the plan has come from the European governing body – UEFA. Its president Aleksander Ceferin has acknowledged publicly on numerous circumstances that it will not agree to the new calendar without a debate. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has come out opposing the proposal, tweeting that he believes the proposal would be deteriorating the game on the club level.
FIFA published a detailed summary to its member federations on Dec. 20 2021 that clarified the advantages of the proposal, containing the estimate that a revised international calendar with a World Cup every two years would produce $4.4 billion in additional revenue per four-year cycle. With the additional income, the cut among the member associations would see an average of $16 million in extra revenue for each member federation.
In addition, the FIFA report illustrated a commissioned independent study that assessed that the plan would boost GDP by $180 billion and see more than two million jobs created per four-year cycle.
UEFA, which rejects the plan, disclosed its statement claiming European member associations could stand to lose over $2-$3 billion per four-year cycle due to lost sponsorships and media revenue. FIFA disputed this claim by stating it would set up a $3.5 billion “solidarity fund” to make up for any discrepancies that associations experience as a result of the changes.
Impact Of The Two Year World Cup On The Women’s Game
There are fears that the women’s game could see a plunge in revenue due to a lack of exposure and interest given the attention that the men’s World Cup would command. But there’s a FIFA advisory group that’s also reviewing the feasibility of expanding the women’s World Cup to a two-year cycle.
UEFA won’t be pleased as well about Infantino’s comment on January 4 that the European Championships could also move to a two-year cycle if the World Cup surely moves forward with this proposal.
“The Euros would also take place every two years,” Infantino said. “In Europe, there is resistance because there is a World Cup every week with the leagues and the best players in the world but that isn’t the case for the rest of the world: it’s a month a year and we need to find a way to truly include the whole world in football.”
At this point, it’s doubtful how FIFA would plan to modify the qualifying cycles for both the World Cup and the continental championships to guarantee the calendar does not become untenable. FIFA has already ratified and implemented a plan to extend the World Cup from 36 teams in its current structure to 48 teams, with the first improved World Cup coming in 2026.
The perception is that this biennial World Cup proposal would allow FIFA to develop more regular touchpoints with fans by hosting major international events every single year that capture the world’s attention and dominate the news cycle. This would ensure FIFA remains relevant during what would have previously been off years, and keep the brand in the public eye for sponsorship and revenue purposes.
The Positive & Negative Impacts Of The Proposal
FIFA’s latest proposal lays out all the pros that the organization believes will come from the two-year World Cup cycle. Most of the thorough advantages rotate around increased revenue or increased visibility of the game. FIFA also touched on an increase in GDP as a result of the added events, which doesn’t come as a surprise, as FIFA often trumpets its shared benefits to national and international economies when searching for World Cup host countries.
The most apparent and troubling negative impact of the proposal is the constant feeding of a bloated match schedule. Players and managers have openly grumbled about an already packed fixture calendar, with both club and international commitments seeing the top players stretched thin. A player who has to feature in many tournaments as proposed by FIFA has chances of facing injury due to increased workload and travel,.
The conversation among fans revolves around the probable dilution of the event’s importance. With the competition held every two years, would it feel less significant and less special, destroying the meaning of the tournament and the value of a victory? Some have pointed to the UEFA Champions League which is held every year but has only gained in prestige.
National Associations On The New Biennial World Cup Plan
FIFA claims that the majority of fans are in acceptance of the new proposal. It shared the outcomes of a survey that indicated overwhelming support for the plan. Among the national associations that will ultimately vote on it, there is support from the members of the African governing body CAF, which has gone public to state its support for the new plan. “If the FIFA study concludes it is feasible, CAF will fully support hosting the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup every two years,” the CAF resolution read.
The Asian confederation has not yet committed one way or the other, but the sense is that its membership is generally in favor, with many countries already openly declaring support for the plan. The North American confederation (CONCACAF) is also open to the proposal.
Many of the 135 countries in Asia, Africa, the CONCACAF, and Oceania regions have never qualified for a World Cup but are incentified by the guarantee of boosted revenue.
Formally opposing the proposal are heavyweights UEFA and CONMEBOL which have the large majority of teams that make up the top tier of the FIFA rankings. Ceferin has been entrenched in his position against the plan while CONMEBOL also released a statement against it. “There are no reasons, benefits, or justification for the change promoted by FIFA,” read the CONMEBOL message.
Both parties, who recently joined forces commercially and competitively with the opening of a joint office in London and the planned participation of South American teams in UEFA’s Nations League tournament, have threatened to protest a biennial World Cup.
FIFA’s Final Verdict on Holding The World Cup Every Two Years
The next FIFA Congress is scheduled for March 2022 in Doha, Qatar, but there are no proposals for a vote to be held on the subject at that time. But it will need to appear soon with the current FIFA international match calendar only running through 2023 (women) and 2024 (men).