The World Cup is a festive and exciting event fans wait for patiently for four years. However, a recent proposal suggests fans won’t have to wait so long for the anticipated event. Following a proposal by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation in May, FIFA is carrying out a feasibility study into altering the World Cup cycle from four years to two. Leading the study is former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger – now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development – and 166 of FIFA’s 210 national associations gave their backing to the research into the idea.
There is resistance, however. Europe’s UEFA and its South American equivalent CONMEBOL both oppose the concept. UEFA hosts the Euro Cup every four years, and a biennial World Cup could compete with that tournament for time slots, fan attention, and player participation. CONMEBOL’s Copa America tournament would face similar challenges. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin voiced his opposition to the suggestion earlier this month, saying, among other things: “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.”
But, speaking to L’Equipe, Wenger explained that the reasoning behind the proposal is to not only increase the regularity of World Cups, but also re-draw the international calendar in a way that suits all elements of the game. It would mean more major tournaments but fewer international breaks, more opportunities for nations to stage World Cups, and clubs suffering less disruption from international fixtures. Wenger believes that increasing the regularity of World Cups will ultimately boost all aspects of the game; He has proposed two international breaks, in March and October, and groups of four nations playing just six qualifying games, which according to him, will ensure “More high-stakes and high emotion games.”