Playing at the World Cup every two years instead of four is back on the football agenda.
The Football Federation of Saudi Arabia has officially asked FIFA to consider organizing two-year World Cups for men and women, the world football body announced on Tuesday.
The proposal to “request a feasibility study on the impact of the two tournaments every two years” will be presented at the annual FIFA meeting of 211 member federations. The congress is being held as a remote session on Friday.
The Men’s World Cup was sailed every two years by then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter more than 20 years ago.
The idea is now returning to the end of the busiest and busiest season in modern football.
In Europe, the same number of competitions and matches were played for club and national teams, although several weeks were lost as the previous season, delayed by the pandemic, displaced the beginning of September.
Still, the proposal is attractive to FIFA, whose president, Gianni Infantino, has built close relations with Saudi Arabia since his election in 2016.
The creation of new and larger competitions is a key theme of the Infantino presidency, although the global players’ union FIFPRO warns players facing burns and injuries from heavier loads.
In the first year of Infantino’s presidency, FIFA added 16 more teams and 16 more matches to the 2026 World Cup. The 48-team, 80-game tournament will be hosted in the United States, Canada and Mexico and must set attendance and revenue records. .
FIFA was to launch a club World Cup tournament with 24 teams in China this year. European football authorities initially opposed the project, citing Infantino’s lack of transparency regarding financial collateral.
The inaugural tournament was postponed last year when a coronavirus pandemic forced the European Championship and the Copa America to be postponed to 2021.
The idea for the two-year World Cup was revived in 2018 by South American football leader Alejandro Dominguez, FIFA vice-president, who was then a close ally of Infantino.
Since then, Dominguez and South American football body CONMEBOL have approached UEFA officials, whose four-year European Championships are likely to be threatened by playing twice as many World Cups.
Currently, each World Cup earns up to $ 6 billion from broadcasting and trade deals from FIFA. The Euro 2016 tournament – which had 51 games compared to 64 in the 32-team format of the World Cup – won UEFA about $ 2.3 billion.
The idea of organizing the Men’s World Cup and the euro every two years was raised in March by the coach of the great Arsene Wenger, who is now head of FIFA’s global development.
Both Wenger and Dominguez used the argument that players deserve more chances to play in World Cups.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are aiming to play in their fifth World Cup in Qatar next year.
Infantino has consistently said that the Women’s World Cup can be held every two years. The next edition in 2023 will host Australia and New Zealand.
A separate proposal for Friday’s FIFA summit in Jamaica called for “a concept for a world football competition for women”.