Fifa considering proposal to stage World Cup every two years

Global Nations League another option being looked at by officials

 Conmebol president   Alejandro Dominguez speaks during a press conference in Buenos Aires. Photograph:   Agustin Marcarian/Getty Images

Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez speaks during a press conference in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Agustin Marcarian/Getty Images

 

Fifa is exploring the possibility of staging the World Cup every two years, rather than every four, the president of South American soccer’s governing body confirmed on Friday.

Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez submitted the proposal at a Fifa congress in Rwanda in October. Dominguez said on Friday that a biennial World Cup would serve as a viable – and even preferable – alternative to the expanded continental championships like Uefa’s Nations League and the Copa America.

Aleksander Ceferin, Dominguez’s counterpart at Uefa, has made clear his desire to incorporate South American teams into Europe’s new Nations League championship at some point. Though Dominguez, a Paraguayan, insisted he was not opposed to that idea, he said that he had encouraged Fifa to examine the benefits of changing the World Cup’s cycle instead.

Any proposed changes to the World Cup, Fifa’s marquee event, are sure to face opposition. A recent expansion of the quadrennial tournament from its current 32 teams to 48 for the 2026 event provoked fierce opposition before it was approved unanimously in 2017. Sepp Blatter, Fifa’s former president, floated the idea of a World Cup every two years as early as 1999, but the concept failed to garner support.

But since assuming his post in 2016, Fifa’s current president, Gianni Infantino, has been supportive of both new events and major changes to soccer’s international calendar, including the World Cup expansion, a so-called mini World Cup of eight teams in off cycles and a multibillion-dollar proposal for an expanded club world championship. Each would produce vital new revenue for Fifa.

Sponsors are far more likely to invest in sports organisations that hold major events every two years rather than every four, something the International Olympic Committee has experienced. In the 1990s it started alternating the Summer and Winter Games every two years.

The increased revenue would allow Infantino to follow through on campaign pledges to return more of Fifa’s billions to its member associations, and it also could serve to fend off power plays by rivals to Infantino, especially in Europe, as he prepares to run for re-election next year.

On Friday, Conmebol cast its lot with the president, announcing that it would support Infantino’s bid for another term. Doubling the frequency of soccer’s most glamorous tournament, however, not only would bring considerable economic benefits but also would allow players to experience the World Cup far more often in their careers, Dominguez said Friday.

“I never say no; I always say, why not?” Dominguez said on the eve of this weekend’s Copa Libertadores final in Buenos Aires. “We always wanted to have a global Nations League, and we always will support an idea like that, or a proposal as we have made to Fifa, which is to do the World Cup every two years and not every four.

“Instead of having a Nations League in between, we can just go ahead and do a World Cup every two years.” He stressed that a shortened schedule would give more players the opportunity to compete in the World Cup, and the best chance to play in more of them. (Dominguez has championed expanding the 2022 Qatar World Cup to 48 teams, a proposal that is also under consideration by Fifa.)

“If we stay with this format, many players could not play more than two,” Dominguez said. “So we see an opportunity there. There is a proposal put forward to Fifa to take it over, and say whether it is a global Nations League or whether there is an opportunity to play the World Cup every two years.”

Such a move, Dominguez said, also would allow Fifa to alternate the tournament much more easily among its six member confederations. There would be “more solutions,” he said. - New York Times

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