Talks of hosting biennial FIFA World Cups have been doing the rounds for a while. Now, FIFA has told its member associations that such a schedule would generate revenues in excess of $4.4 billion over the first four-year cycle, as it looks to garner support for its proposal.
In a meeting attended by delegates from 207 out of the eligible 210 member associations, FIFA revealed its financial projections, which are based on two independent studies by Nielsen and OpenEconomics. With the international match calendars for women’s and men’s football set to expire in 2023 and 2024 respectively, time is of the essence for FIFA as it looks to push its biennial World Cup proposal.
Citing research by Nielsen, FIFA claimed that the increased revenue from the proposed biennial World Cup cycle would provide an additional $16 million in revenue to its member associations, but did not divulge the details of how finances would be distributed among its members.
Meanwhile, the study by OpenEconomics suggests that a biennial World Cup cycle for men’s football would lead to a whopping $180 billion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) over the course of 16 years, and would also lead to the creation of two million full-time jobs.
In an attempt to justify the new proposal from a footballing perspective, FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave a statement, saying, “Our intention is to help ‘bridge the gap’ between FIFA member associations and to give as many of them a more realistic chance of playing on the global stage.”
However, not everyone is convinced about the benefits of a biennial World Cup cycle. For instance, European football association UEFA and South American football association CONMEBOL have voiced their objections to FIFA’s proposal, which has received support from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Apart from UEFA’s plan for an expanded Champions League, the apex European football association has released its own research suggesting that European national football associations would experience a €2.5 to €3 billion drop in revenues should the new proposal be implemented.
FIFA’s plan to host biennial World Cups has also received criticism from influential players and managers alike. Earlier this year, Barcelona legend Sergio Busquets told the media that players “would explode” out of sheer exhaustion if the football calendar kept getting busier. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp too had earlier expressed his displeasure at the idea, saying, “There’s no other sport in the world with such a relentless calendar. We all know why it’s happening. Whatever people say that it’s about giving different countries opportunities, in the end it’s all about money.”
As it stands, the proposal does not have the support required to implement it, and it remains to be seen whether FIFA can do anything to change that.