UEFA threatens blacklist as FIFA drums biennial World Cup plan

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LONDON: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned of a possible European boycott of the planet Cup if FIFA’s plans to stage the tournament every two years plow ahead.

World football’s administration is completing a review of the international match calendar, led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who is proposing a serious tournament per annum.

Under the proposals, the planet Cup would rotate with continental tournaments like the ECU Championship and be played every second year rather than every fourth.

“We can decide to not play in it,” Ceferin, head of European football’s administration, told the day’s newspaper. “As far as I do know, the South Americans are on an equivalent page. So good luck with a World Cup like that.

“I think it’ll never happen because it is such a lot against the essential principles of football. To play every summer is a one-month tournament, for the players it’s a killer. If it’s every two years it clashes with the women’s World Cup , with the Olympic football tournament.

“The value is precisely because it’s every four years, you await it, it’s just like the Olympic Games, it’s an enormous event. I don’t see our federations supporting that.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who publicly seems to prioritise introducing more and larger competitions instead of more pressing matters like new strategies to tackle racism within the game, has already managed to expand the planet Cup from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026.

FIFA argues it’s acting purely within the interests of what’s best for world football.

But the method that led to the addition of 16 teams at the planet Cup shows that isn’t precisely the case. FIFA’s own feasibility study in 2016, months into Infantino’s first term as Sepp Blatter’s successor, found that the very best absolute quality would be achieved under the present format.

Giving more countries the prospect of competing within the World Cup, and promises of additional cash handouts panders to more of the 211 national federations whose re-election votes he requires. there’s rarely dissent at a FIFA Congress. 166 nations voted in favor of a feasibility study on biennial World Cups.

The FIFA delegates were told the proposal for the feasibility study came from Saudi Arabia’s federation. Officially, a sponsor was required to urge it on the congress agenda.

But the plan had been within the works long before May, with Infantino talking up the merits of biennial World Cups beforehand of the Saudi proposal existing.

Infantino has shown little hesitation for meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, overlooking concerns about Saudi human rights violations and piracy of FIFA’s own broadcasts linked to the dominion.

FIFA’s head of worldwide Football Development Wenger, the person fronting the proposals for a biennial World Cup, said on Thursday that FIFA’s plan has received a “very positive response”.

The former Arsenal manager has been pushing the thought for several weeks before holding a consultation with a gaggle of around 80 former players and coaches in Doha, Qatar, this week.

Former Brazil World Cup winner Ronaldo appeared on a virtual news conference with Wenger and expressed his support for the thought with ex-Australia international Tim Cahill and former Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel also backing the method.

Schmeichel said that none of the players who had attended the discussion had been against the thought of moving to a two-year cycle instead of the present four-year gap.

“Overall, i feel I even have got a really positive response, but this decision may be a democratic decision and can be made certainly by the 211 countries who are affiliated to FIFA. I feel that we still consult people,” said Wenger.

Alongside UEFA, the body representing professional competitions in Europe, European Leagues, and therefore the World Leagues Forum, which represents the most domestic club competitions, have opposed Wenger’s plans.

Asked that opposition and therefore the risk of major conflict within the sport, Wenger said he was just completing the role of developing an answer for the sport.

“I’m not hesitant in the least . I’m 100% convinced that what I propose is that the right solution for the fashionable thanks to organise football. If people have better ideas, I’m hospitable it and that i welcome every concept is best than mine,” he said.

“I won’t vote. I just make a proposal that i feel will improve things and make life better for everyone , but especially make football better,” he said.

“That is my main target isn’t guided by anything ,” he said, adding his role was, however, to convince people of the merits of his proposal.

“What we do today is a component of it, but also i will be able to respect football’s decision and I’m convinced also that we will get everybody to simply accept that this is often the simplest solution,” he said.

Wenger said a choice on subsequent steps for the proposal might be taken by FIFA as early as December.

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