After already expanding the competition to 48 teams starting 2028, now, FIFA wants a World Cup every two years.
FIFA, the international governing body of football, has created a stir by announcing a bloated Club World Cup.
The football body says that it will carry out a feasibility study on holding the World Cup every two years.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) put forward a proposal for a study. This study will measure the impact of switching the World Cup from every four years to every two years.
“We believe the future of football is at a critical juncture,” said SAFF president Yasser Al-Misehal. “The many issues that football has faced have now been further exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.”
In reaction, FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has called SAFF’s suggestion an ‘eloquent and detailed proposal’.
Indeed, 166 national federations have even voted in favour of it, which means only 22 have voted against.
Infantino also reiterated his intention to “find a date” for a Club World Cup which he wants to see extended. He wishes to extend it to 24 teams, despite widespread opposition to the plan.
The Perks of a Biennial World Cup
FIFA wants a World Cup every two years and some arguments supporting a World Cup held biennially are:
- More Stage Time for International Teams – Infantino pointed out that a biennial World Cup will help countries outside Europe to play more meaningful games. “In Africa, out of 54 countries, only five qualify for the World Cup. If you don’t qualify what are you doing for the next four years? Nothing?” he said.
- Enhanced Revenue Distribution – Infantino said big leagues generate billions in revenues from all over the world. “And these revenues are distributed where — to the 18-20 clubs in their leagues, with a small percentage going in solidarity,” he remarked.
- Increased Revenue Generation – Having two World Cups in four years would substantially increase revenue opportunities for FIFA, whose monetary motivations are low now.
The Pitfalls of a Biennial World Cup
However, we can also think of several reasons why this proposal might not work, the most pertinent of them being:
- The Novelty Will Wear Off – Many say staging a World Cup every two years would devalue the tournament. It is currently one of the most coveted tournaments because teams prepare and wait for it for four years. This exact concern arose in 1999 when former FIFA president Sepp Blatter made a similar proposal. “Waiting for it increases the value of it,” former England footballer Bobby Charlton had said then.
- Scheduling – International friendlies will suffer if World Cup qualifiers take up all their dates every two years. UEFA’s competitions’ scheduling will also take a hit, which is why UEFA may oppose this proposal. Such tight scheduling, on top of domestic and other matches, will impact players’ fitness, health, and mental health, too.