New World Cup cycle? – UEFA vs Rest of the World

UEFA-Chef Aleksander Ceferin (links) mit Fifa-Boss Gianni Infantino (rechts).  (imago sportfotodienst)

It’s football summer every two years. The national teams then face each other either in the world championships or in continental championships such as the Euro. But more and more football officials want to break this rhythm. They demand: instead of all four tournaments, tournaments should be held every two years. This would mean: national teams compete against each other every summer.

Representatives from Saudi Arabia, a close ally of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, presented the proposal at the FIFA Congress in May and called for a feasibility study. Of the more than 200 FIFA federations, 166 supported the Arab country.

2026 World Cup, 2027 European Championship, 2028 World Cup again

Arsene Wenger, former Arsenal London coach and now chief developer of FIFA, is drafting plans for what a two-year World Cup cycle will look like – and is excited about the plans. He told the ‘kicker’: “Think of it this way: 2026 World Championships in the United States, Mexico, and Canada; 2027 a European Championships and other continental tournaments; 2028 another World Championships; and so on.” The required qualifying matches will take place within a month in the autumn.

But European clubs, leagues and UEFA certainly want to keep the World Cup cycle from getting shorter. It is the famous conflict between national team-oriented FIFA and European football that dominates the clubs. Most of the international stars play here. If a major tournament were to take place every summer, clubs feared that expensive players would be overloaded. Then you’ll only have a few weeks without playing in the summer, increasing your risk of injury. This would be bad news for the clubs.

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“More is not always better”

In addition, the already full schedule of clubs will be even fuller. The top teams play in national league and cup competitions in Champions, European or Conference leagues, as well as Supercups, Club World Cups, Nations Leagues and of course, World and European Championships with respective qualifications.
Football will take place without a break, with an international tournament every summer.

European officials, who have just extended the Champions League and invented the Conference League, fear it will gradually become too much for fans and the competitions’ special status will be lost: “The World Cup is so valuable because This leads, in our opinion, to a World Cup more arbitrary, of less importance, every two years. It would devalue the tournament,” UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin said last time at the European Club Association’s general meeting in Geneva. “More is not always better.”

But UEFA is not just concerned about its players and fans. Above all, she fears for her money. Because so far he has made huge profits with EM, about 850 million euros in 2016. If a major tournament takes place every summer in the future, the European Championship could be less lucrative and less profitable than the World Cup. The League of Nations could also be brought down completely. UEFA meets at the weekend to discuss “the future of European football”. But it should also be about FIFA’s plans.

And what is the status of the German Football Association? The DFB has also opposed reform plans for the World Championships. The manager of the German national team, Oliver Bierhoff, said on Bild TV: “We think the rhythm we have now is ideal. I don’t think there is any point in blowing up the calendar again with the tournament. I appreciate it If we stick to this line.”

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England national coach Gareth Southgate, on the other hand, was more open to the World Cup tournament: “I don’t know how our generation can find the World Cup every two years as a strange concept.” However, the international match calendar needs to be radically cleaned up.

Other football associations want reform

The situation is different for football federations on other continents. For example, the African CAF has already indicated support for a two-year cycle. Because the African Cup makes little money in comparison, money from the more frequent World Cup is welcome. Several Asian national associations have recently indicated their support, as have South and North American federations.

Arsene Wenger in ‘Kicker’ offers further arguments that would speak in favor of stopping the World Cup cycle: “Meanwhile, 211 countries belong to FIFA – and 133 of them have never played a World Cup. These countries are held every four years.” Let me watch without watching. A chance to take part in it myself.” More frequent tournaments will give more opportunities to qualify, and talents from smaller football nations may present themselves more frequently at the international level. Former Ivory Coast international Yara Toure wrote on Twitter: “Playing the World Cup every two years will help African football.”

It is not yet clear when FIFA will decide on the new cycle of the World Cup. However, the number of people who raise their voice in favor of shortening the cycle is increasing. For example, Gianni Infantino said at the FIFA Congress in May: “The club has a chance of five or six titles a year. Each national team only has a chance every four years. If you are not there, So it’s very sad. One frequency.” However, UEFA seems unwilling to give in to the controversy: “The World Cup cannot happen every two years for a thousand reasons,” he told UEFA’s director of Gazzetta dello Sport, Zvonimir Boban.

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It is still unclear when a vote on potential reforms will be taken. This week Wenger meets with a group of 30 experts in Doha to discuss the future of football. Among them are Sami Khedira, Lothar Matthaus and Jurgen Klinsmann.

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