The prospect of staging a men’s World Cup every three years has been discussed by Fifa officials, as football’s governing body revisits plans for a radical change to the football calendar.
The idea of a triennial World Cup was first floated behind closed doors this year shortly after plans for a tournament every two years were abandoned. The plan remains hypothetical but is revealing of the strategy of Gianni Infantino, who hopes to remain as Fifa’s president for a further decade.
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A triennial men’s World Cup would mean a complete change in the global fixtures calendar, which caused much of the opposition to a biennial World Cup, an idea first floated last summer and killed off in the new year. Infantino’s desire to host his flagship tournament more frequently is shared by nations in Africa and Asia, however, and could get closer to reality if other stakeholders are brought on board.
One group likely to be wooed in the short term are club sides in Europe’s top divisions. Last week Infantino announced that an expanded Club World Cup featuring 32 teams would be launched from 2025. Previous versions of this idea fell apart during the pandemic but had offered 24 clubs the prospect of sharing prize money of more than $2bn.
If Fifa were able to deliver a club competition with similar levels of reward in 2025 then European clubs would no doubt be tempted to join, weakening the resistance to Fifa’s other proposed reforms currently channeled through Uefa.
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Still, the question remains as to how Fifa would be able to raise the money necessary given tighter financial conditions across the globe. Some seasoned Fifa observers suggest the best prospect would not be through banks but the Gulf; perhaps the state of Saudi Arabia, which is keen to host the World Cup in 2030.
Whatever the outcome, events of the past few weeks in Qatar appear to have revived Infantino’s ambitions for the expansion of Fifa. What he described as “the best World Cup ever” is an event that could yet be seen to have heralded a change in the balance of power in world football.
Fifa has been approached for comment.