Fans from all over the world have joined forces to oppose FIFA’s plans to hold a World Cup every two years.
The fans have spoken out against the proposal, which has been promoted by the FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Arsene Wenger, the organisation’s chief of global football development.
Fifty-eight fan groups, including representatives from each of the six FIFA confederations, which run football around the world, have signed up to a statement condemning the idea.
In May FIFA Congress approved a study to look into moving the World Cup to every two years
They have been particularly upset by former Arsenal manager Wenger’s suggestion that a biennial World Cup is what the fans would want.
‘What people want today are high-stakes, easy-to-understand competitions,’ Wenger told the French newspaper L’Equipe.
But the fan groups declared: ‘Fans’ organisations categorically refute this statement.
‘The overwhelming majority of fans oppose a biennial World Cup cycle—and if FIFA had bothered to engage with us on the subject, they would have known this to be the case.’
Fan groups say they have not been asked for their opinion ona biennial World Cup
In May, FIFA approved a study into holding the World Cup every two years, instead of every four, following a request by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
Infantino has developed a narrative around ‘global’ football, highlighting the fact that much of the international game is dominated by Europe and South America.
Saudi Arabia, with others, have shown ambition to be a bigger force in world football. A World Cup every two years instead of every four would give other countries a chance to fulfil their hosting dream.
Arsene Wenger has called for a World Cup every two years and a simplified fixture calendar
Wenger proposed one period of qualifiers in a single year, and compulsory rests for players
FIFA says it is consulting on the issue of a two-yearly World Cup and how to resolve the challenge posed by fixture congestion.
Among the signatories to the hard-hitting fan statement are the Aussie Supporteroos and Flying Kiwis from Australia and New Zealand, respectively; Association nationale des supporteurs des leopards from Congo in Africa,; Sammers (USA); Open Stadiums (Iran); Women’s Footie ID (Indonesia) and Marea Roja from Chile.
‘Such a move threatens to destroy the already fragile balance between local, domestic, continental, and international competitions and calendars,’ said the fans.
‘In particular, it will devalue and endanger the established competitions run by the various confederations—competitions that are just as important to match-going fans as the World Cup itself.’
France won the World Cup in 2018, but the competition could be held every two years
UEFA and CONMEBOL may have particular cause for concern since they run the lucrative European Championships and Copa America every four years .
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin spoke out strongly against a biennial competition when he addressed the European Clubs Association, this week.
‘We enjoy the World Cup precisely because it is an extraordinary event,’ said the fan groups, in words that resonated with some of Ceferin’s criticism.
‘Most of us do not have the time, money, or ability to travel to the other side of the world every 24 months to watch our teams play in a much-diminished competition and half empty stadia.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is proposing a consultation on the international calendar
‘Football is currently faced with significant problems and challenges—gross inequality within and between leagues and confederations, spiralling costs for fans, and inadequate grassroots infrastructure.
‘The game needs to change. But it needs to change for the better. We do not want or need more World Cups.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is opposed to the biennial World Cup
Infantino tried to offer reassurance when he spoke to the European clubs on Monday.
‘Now starts a phase of consultation and of course all clubs, leagues, associations and all football fans and lovers will be involved and are involved,’ the FIFA president said, suggesting the whole approach to international club and country competition needs to be re-considered.
‘We need to rethink the calendar fundamentally and to do this we need to have good will from everyone,’ he added.
‘There are no taboo topics The door of FIFA is open to any idea to any proposal. We shouldn’t take this consultation process as any sort of challenge, any sort of fight as I have been hearing here and there. It is simply a way to try, and global football, stronger.
‘For this, we need the help and assistance of everyone. We will be approaching you and we hope we can find something that suits of course the European clubs but also the clubs from all over the world, the associations from all over the world.’
Meanwhile, Wenger says his proposals are focused on reducing the amount of international fixtures in the calendar.
He has outlined a plan in which there would be a major tournament at the end of each football season, mentioning either a World Cup or a European Championship.
Qualifiers would be grouped into windows, making international fixtures easier to manage by playing them in blocs.
‘This would provide ‘more clarity for clubs and fewer problems for the national teams’, he said.