Is the new Biennial FIFA World Cup proposal good or bad for football?

FIFA’s newly proposed plan for the Biennial Word Cup has faced an avalanche of criticism while some people backed the proposal; it first came as a proposal from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation in May 2021 and was later taken into consideration leading to polarizing between FIFA authority and fans, players and regional federations. 

FIFA has been adamant about this proposal; former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who is FIFA’s Head of Global Football Development, has supported this plan along with him Kevin De Bruyne and Sunil Chettri are also optimistic about this proposal.

What’s more ironic is that when Arsene Wenger was managing Arsenal, he complained about too many international games and is now supporting the biennial World Cup scheme. 

There has been a good and a bad side to this proposal, and what makes this project controversial? Let’s analyze this from both sides. 

When will the Biennial FIFA World Cup will take place? 

The current international games will take place between five periods during regular club seasons. After that, five international breaks, which last for 10 days. 

The matches are played in September, October, November, March, and June. In this period, confederation competitions, as well as the FIFA World Cup Qualifying fixtures, occur.

So, as per FIFA, the qualifiers should take place in October and March and the Biennial World Cup every two years. While Wenger said, it will be more meaningful and give quality to the competition. 

This concept of scheduling the qualifying fixtures in the international breaks is similar to the UEFA Nations League concept, which is at the center of the proposal. 

Who will be benefitted from this project? 

The tournament sponsors and other national and international footballing federations who contribute will benefit from this new plan, as FIFA’s 95% of total income comes from FIFA World Cup itself, and its obvious that money is the primary motivation from this plan.

The FIFA World cup is one of the most famous tournaments in the sporting world, and making it more frequent will dwindle its value and rarity, attracting more negative sentiments from fans. 

However, one good reason would be more countries will get a chance to host this coveted event more frequently, like Qatar is the first Middle East country to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. So, basically, many counties will have a shot at hosting the Biennial World Cup.

How will the Biennial Word Cup affect players and clubs?  

This plan will certainly affect players’ mental health and put a dent in their physical stress. If the player gets less time to rest, then it can harm their body. Chelsea’s midfielder Mason Mount has stated it becomes exhausting after a certain point where players are forced to overplay. 

Spain and Barcelona midfielder Pedri played 73 matches last season and did not get much time to buffer between the Olympics and his return to Barcelona. The five substitutes rule hasn’t worked because managers always opt for those players who excel on the pitch.

Most importantly, clubs will ban their players from indulging in other activities and not favour this proposal. Their major concern will be big names who will miss the club matches, which will harm the team performance in the matches. 

Who all are against this project? 

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has refrained from supporting this plan and said 

“Holding it every two years will lead to less legitimacy and it will, unfortunately, dilute the World Cup itself.” - Aleksander Ceferin.

Another major concern will be that the Euros and FIFA World Cup will clash in 2028 if the biennial model comes into place. The Biennial FIFA World Cup can threaten regional confederations’ authority to hold tournaments.

Even Premier League 20 clubs have opposed this FIFA plan to reduce the four years two years 

“The Premier League is committed to preventing any radical changes to the post-2024 FIFA international match calendar that would adversely affect player welfare and threaten the competitiveness, calendar, structures and traditions of domestic football,” said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

However, the Biennial world cup is yet to be pushed ahead as FIFA president said “FIFA will only go ahead with biennial World Cup if it benefits everybody,” though the FIFA has scheduled its next meeting in Doha on March 31 next year and will conclude its plan with other members. 

Featured Image Credits: File photo: AFP

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