Senior European figures oppose Fifa plans for biennial World Cup

Uefa president and European Club Association boss united in opposition

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, told representatives of more than 100 clubs: “We think that the jewel of the World Cup has value precisely because of its rarity. Holding it every two years will lead to less legitimacy, and it will unfortunately dilute the World Cup itself.” Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, told representatives of more than 100 clubs: “We think that the jewel of the World Cup has value precisely because of its rarity. Holding it every two years will lead to less legitimacy, and it will unfortunately dilute the World Cup itself.” Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

 

Two of the most senior figures in European football have attacked Fifa’s plans to reform the international calendar and implement a biennial World Cup, warning they risk diluting the game’s “jewel” and will put players’ health at risk.

Speaking at a meeting of the European Club Association in Geneva, Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, told representatives of more than 100 clubs: “You have probably heard that Fifa is conducting a feasibility study about the World Cup every two years. Well, we think that the jewel of the World Cup has value precisely because of its rarity. Holding it every two years will lead to less legitimacy, and it will unfortunately dilute the World Cup itself.

“Our players don’t need to see more of their summers spent at tournaments rather than devoted to relaxation and recuperation,” he added.

That message was reinforced by the ECA president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, the chief executive of Paris Saint-Germain, who issued a veiled attack on Fifa as he warned that the reform of the international match calendar needed “honest engagement, not unilateral and self-interested decisions”.

“Over-scheduled and disrupted matches put the players’ health and wellbeing at risk – and the clubs bear all the risk,” he added. “International competition cannot suffocate fans’ and players’ connections to clubs, without which international competition wouldn’t exist.”

On Friday, Arsène Wenger, Fifa’s chief of global football development, outlined proposals that could see a World Cup or European Championship being staged every summer. He also hinted that qualifiers could be held throughout the preceding October, rather than over an 18-month period, and said he hoped everything would be decided by December.

However Uefa and most clubs are firmly against the proposals, with Ceferin also criticising Fifa for its lack of consultation.

Khelaifi also launched a fresh attack on the three remaining Super League rebels, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

“I will not spend much time talking about the 18th of April, and the ‘not-so-Super League’ because I do not like to focus on fabulists and failures,” he told the first major gathering of clubs since the pandemic.

“While the three rebel clubs waste energies, twist narratives and continue to shout at the sky, the rest of us are moving forward and focusing every energy on building a better future for European football – together as one.” - Guardian

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