FIFA already has the majority to approve the World Cup every two years, but it will wait

A 700-page project, “sticks” to Conmebol and UEFA, the representative of a federation who fell asleep in the middle of a videoconference and, above all, the increasingly certain possibility that the World Cup will be held every two years. These were the highlights of the global summit that FIFA held this Monday to discuss the initiative of a biennial Cup, a plan for which the body chaired by Gianni Infantino already has the favor of the “majority” of the member associations, as stated by the leader himself, although not that of the South American or European.

“The majority would be in favor. We want to improve football and we are going to continue with the dialogue,” Infantino said in his speech before the representatives of the 207 federations present via Zoom – its president, Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia, was on the AFA. – at the exhibition. The FIFA boss was not alone in his presentation, he was accompanied by the French Arsene Wenger, emblematic ex-DT of English Arsenal and current director of World Football Development within the governing institution of the discipline.

During the almost two hours of exhibition in Doha, Qatar, FIFA explained the economic benefits that the modification of the calendars from 2024 and the reduction of the time between the World Cups will have. According to projections, in four years revenues will grow by up to 4.4 billion dollars, which represents a total of 19 million for each of the member countries. Thus, starting with the 2026 World Cup, with the new 48-participant format, it is believed that revenue from ticket sales, television rights and advertising will go from 7 billion to 11.4 billion dollars.

Wenger and Infantino during the exhibition in Doha, Qatar. (FIFA Press)

“It is a very important project that will help bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Everyone would benefit, the big, the small, the rich and the poor. Everyone would have additional possibilities to play and have additional income protecting to the leagues and thinking of the fans. This is what was presented today, “said Infantino.

Infantino said that today 70 percent of the income of the national teams is in Europe and 30 in the rest of the world. With the FIFA proposal, he pointed out, the percentages would equalize to 60-40 without prejudice for Europe because it would earn 2 billion euros more than with the current 70 percent.

“The World Cup every two years is simply one of the elements of the study. We talk about the future of football, the impact we want for the world of football. We cannot tell the rest of the world that it is very good, that football is global. Some countries can have the World Cup every two weeks because they have the best players, but in other countries they cannot see the best players in a lifetime, “added the Italian-Swiss leader.

Conmebol and UEFA

Regarding the -for now- refusal by UEFA, Infantino challenged: “Maybe UEFA is against it because it had not seen the economic numbers that we have presented today. In addition, we have modified the calendar taking into account the comment of the European associations they didn’t want to play everything in a month. “

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Regarding Conmebol, meanwhile, the president recalled that the “first proposal” to change the calendars came from the South American Confederation itself but regretted that “now he has changed his mind.” Infantino, head of FIFA since 2016, remarked that Conmebol has guaranteed all 18 World Cup qualification matches, that it will be able to organize the Copa América “every two or four” years and that the calendar will also allow it to play friendlies “outside of South America. “.

Guameño dream

One of the most influential moments of the exhibition had nothing to do with football or screenings, but was the image of the representative of the island of Guam asleep in the middle of a videoconference. The screenshot of Marvin Iseke, wearing a “Hawaiian” shirt, leaning back in his chair and apparently in the fifth dream was shared by the British journalist from the Times, Martyn Ziegler, leading to endless jokes and memes.

During the post-show press conference, Infantino was asked about the leaders who fell asleep, but he gracefully stepped out without pointing at anyone. Guam is located in Micronesia, depends on the United States, has about 170 thousand inhabitants and is ranked 206 (out of 210 federations) in the FIFA ranking.

The young audience

Another aspect that Infantino gave a lot of importance to was capturing the young audience. “If we do not want to lose the youth of football, we must offer them possibilities to excite them. There is nothing like a World Cup every two years for this. A survey has been done and the younger generation wants a World Cup more often after more than 100,000 votes, “he said.

Thus, the discussion will continue on the agenda despite the majority in favor of the project and that it is possible that a decision will not be made next March, when the annual FIFA congress takes place in Doha. Advancing without the support of South Americans and Europeans is not in the plans, at the moment.

The issue of prestige

Asked if the World Cup would lose prestige and interest when it is held every two years instead of every four, he argued that this prestige does not depend on the time it takes to organize between one and the other, but on other more important factors.

“The prestige of the World Cup is absolute. It does not depend on its frequency. If not, it would have to be played not every four, every 40 years and it would be ten times more prestigious. A World Cup is prestigious for the quality it has and for the global impact. 4,000 million people watch the World Cup and studies show us that there would be no problem, “said Infantino.


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