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A World Cup every two years?


As any followers of football, and many who don’t but understand the impact football has on society, will have been aware that FIFA are proposing is to host a World Cup every two years instead of the four which has been the norm. The tournament was first held in 1930, when FIFA, the world’s football governing body, decided to stage an international men’s football tournament under the direction of FIFA president Jules Rimet who put this idea into place.



Before I go any further in to my thoughts on this, FIFA have issued the results of a survey of 15000 ‘football fans’ that seems to support FIFA’s view that the fans want this change. Strangely, this is a survey commissioned by FIFA without consulting confederations or national leagues, rather than an independent body, which results support FIFA’s view. Yet, on every other online poll I’ve seen on social media and websites, without exception, every one has upwards of 90% of REAL fans against such a move. It would be interesting to see who was actually asked the questions in the poll, were they in countries that have not hosted a World Cup? Were they actually people who attend football matches, or rather watch highlights on TV and social media, the TikTok generation, who may not have any concept of the depth of feeling watching a full football match, live, at the ground of a team you are deeply emotionally connected to?


To anyone coldly watching from the outside, it appears to be a profit driven organisation trying to manipulate public opinion to drive through a deeply unpopular massive change in sport to their own advantage, with no real consideration given to the players, fans, communities and economics of society. FIFA wants the international game to reclaim some of the financial power, commercial impact and status of the club game, but fails to understand that the majority of fans always put club before country when it comes to football. All the attempted changes will do will be to drive a larger wedge between club and country and will have the opposite effect to the one desired, and actually diminish and devalue the importance of the international game.


There is higher placed opposition to these as yet unimplemented plans, with UEFA, the European football governing organisation, regarding the moves as almost a declaration of war by FIFA on UEFA, currently the financial superpower of the world game. European football has the leading domestic leagues, richest clubs and Champions League all giving UEFA huge influence. But the increasing financial reliance of major European football teams on finance from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Russia, China and the United States has given FIFA the chance to canvas support for their proposals to the international game. It appears 166 of FIFA’s 210 national associations have given their backing to the research, but the vast majority of these are non-European, strangely enough.


The issue ‘on the field’ is manyfold, with the proposed changes apparently being discussed in a vacuum without input from the clubs, players and fans. In the proposals that have appeared so far (mainly in an interview with Arsene Wenger (now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development) even by itself, the four-week summer international tournament every two years would include possible monthly qualifying ‘international breaks’ in October and March, followed by a 25-day break after tournament, which amounts to around six months in that two-year cycle when players are away from their clubs. In the 18 months left, you will also have the European Championship, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, the Europa Conference League and of course, the domestic leagues, cup competitions and, of course, the lucrative preseason friendly tours which continue to drive the game to the four corners of the world and gave football its popularity in the rest of the world in the first place.


The idea of the October and March breaks would be to run qualification campaigns with reduced numbers in qualifying groups to feed an expanded 48-team participation number in the final World Cup tournament. UEFA has 55 member nations so it would mean 14 qualifying groups. Africa has 54 member nations and only 9 slots in the Finals, and South America, will have 6 qualifiers from 10 member nations, so their qualifying campaign could be over after just a couple of fixtures. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, as opposed to a time-tested current system that has worked well for nearly a century.


As for the fans, the almost forgotten element in all of this, they will undoubtedly still follow their teams, but, as we’ve seen, will pick and choose what they spend their reducing pot of spare cash on, as little by little they continued to get priced out of, and forgotten by, the game they brought to the world in the first place, which has now been stolen by a ruling class of football overlords who see no further than their own self-importance, and the bank balance of organisations that are so out of touch with what they are supposed to be governing and who they are governing it for it’s unreal.


In my opinion, football is continually being devalued by the move towards football being a disposable commodity, where availability and profitability is paramount, more so than achievement and loyalty to the fanbase. The introduction of throwaway competitions such as the Europa Conference League (what IS that all about?), the restructuring of the European Cup to become a competition where a team then can finish 5th in the own league can qualify and now this expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams, and 2-year tournaments in my mind completely remove the excitement of seeing elite teams and players competing against their peers. Instead, we have the football equivalent of magnolia paint, where you’re watch a match on the TV or online, watching players moving around, but caring as much about them or the result as you would about selecting a breakfast cereal.


Is this the future of football? If it is, thank goodness I don’t have too many years left, I would be extremely sad to see a sport that has been as close to a religion as I have, simply feels like a visit to the supermarket. For those that have supported your team, through thick and thin, and understand the passion and emotion that entails, stay true to your club, and keep telling the stories of achievement and sacrifice, the next generations will never experience, nor understand, what you have in your heart and mind.


Finally, FIFA, change for a reason that benefits all, not just the greedy and morally bankrupt, is a good thing. What you are doing is in no way good for football or, more importantly, the players and fans. But then again, you don’t really care, do you?

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