FIFA in a detailed plan underlined how it would reshape international football by playing the men’s World Cup every two years. When FIFA unveiled its plan, it was joined by retired greats, who supported the idea. despite European opposition that could lead to a boycott.
Since 2018, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his friends have floated the idea of a biennial World Cup which European football has viewed as a commercial and competitive threat to its club and national team events.
FIFA global development director Arsene Wenger was the one who birthed the idea and has led the project since its earliest days.
The changes in international football games that is expected to come in effect from 2024 will see more to-level tournaments and fewer qualifying games - the biennial men's World Cup is the key takeaway.
Supporting this idea, Wenger said that his priorities were to have less travel for players and less disruption for their clubs. This, in return, will give young talents worldwide "a chance to shine" by also playing more meaningful games.
Apart from the power struggle between the UEFA and FIFA, there are other flaws with the biennial World Cup.
It is all about the money
According to Sports Illustrated, around 95% of FIFA's income in a four-year cycle comes from World Cups. So, simple math comes in place. If the number of tournaments is doubled, its revenues will also double. The world body of football raised around $6 billion in revenue from the 2018 World Cup. All the revenues were generated by selling broadcast rights, tickets and sponsorship.
However, that is not the case because the doubling of the tournament not necessarily means doubling of revenues. But, yes, it will definitely come close.
As mentioned, it is more about the power struggle. More 'meaningful matches' are expected to enhance FIFA's status.
UEFA boycott threats
If the biennial happens, UEFA will be left with a crammed calendar, which will mean strain on players and could likely impact its own revenue. UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin has threatened a boycott, saying "We can decide not to play in it."
If UEFA boycott then any FIFA tournament becomes irrelevant. You ask why? Because it has been 20 years since non-European teams have made a mark in a major tournament. The last non-European World Cup winner and 13 of the last 16 semifinalists have been European.
Supposedly if the major European nations decide to break away with it and go at it alone, it would only entice Brazil and Argentina to join them, rendering FIFA irrelevant.
Clash of the titans
The clash between FIFA and UEFA is 'challenging clubs and leagues' for a larger share of profits as football continues to grow. Earlier, Infantino is seeking to do increase the number of teams in the World Cup from 32 to 48 and also expanding the Club World Cup.
For obvious reasons, the UEFA is trying to protect its revenue. It is so because more international matches will directly gnaw away at it into European club competitions.
A two-year gap between World Cups is likely to have a plunging effect on the continental championships like the Euros. In its plan, Wenger said that the Euros will have to be changed, with each season ending with a big-ticket event in June.
News agency Reuters simplifies it: "For example, in 2028 there would be a World Cup. In 2029, there would be a European Championship (and similar continental competitions around the world) then in 2030 there would be the next World Cup."
So far, only Asia (Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) and Africa have backed the idea. Since they have not even qualified even for the Asian Cup, it would not be unreasonable ask to understand their keenness.
Cascading effect on other tourneys
While the plan has been laid out, it is unclear how the biennial World Cup fits in with confederation tournaments. There is also that the idea of all confederational tournaments being held in the northern European summer is not feasible in a number of countries (this is demonstrated by the shift of the Qatar World Cup to November).
Plus, players need a break and successive games will not bode well for them, both physically and mentally.
"I can see no good reason for it. There may be vested interests here but the summer sports are protective about the landscape as it’s hard enough for them as it is to grab space in the traditional or digital media. A biennial World Cup will inevitably start clashing with the Olympic Games too," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said last week.