"World Cup every two years is positive; Wenger is a visionary"

Javier Mascherano, former Argentine international of FC Barcelona, ​​explained this Thursday that supports Arsène Wenger’s idea of ​​organizing the World Cup every two years, instead of being played every four as before, and acknowledged that “not only does it make sense, but it is a fundamental part of a broader and more positive change to the international calendar. “

Asked about this matter, Mascherano added: “The first time I heard it it seemed strange because we are used to thinking about the World Cup every four years. But then I thought about it more, I had the opportunity to speak with Arsène and other colleagues. Wenger is a true soccer personality and has been a visionary in many ways over many years. It still is and it’s amazing to see someone from your experience committed to making the game better for future generations. All these issues are being reviewed in a consultation process with football and their priority is looked at, not money or political reasons“.

Mascherano also explained the context in which footballers move today, who face hard and endless calendars. “For example, there is one thing that is obvious now with what is happening with the next qualifiers for the World Cup in South America. Due to the pandemic, some of the matches had to be postponed and now it has been difficult to find dates and days to locate the matches. Even without this situation, there is always tension between the teams and the national teams because everyone wants to have the players longer. This can be solved with fewer international windows, but also with a longer one in which the teams can play the qualifiers, “he commented.

The former Liverpool and FC Barcelona player, among other clubs, knows first-hand the wear and tear that it entails travel from Europe to his country to play for Argentina. And he appeals to this new direction to look for advantages that help to take care of the footballer’s health. “Starting off, a very important one, which is travel less and have fewer flights. Most of the national team players in South America play in Europe and it is exhausting having to travel from there always, and then have long trips within South America, to play a game or two and then fly back to play the weekend with your club. If players could travel just once a year between continents, it would be spectacular, “he said.

And he continued: “Thus the players could concentrate on their clubs for many months in a row without interruption, and we would not have this constant stoppage. with very long trips in September, October, November, March and June. I think that both the clubs and the national teams would be happy if that was the case. It will also be clearer for the fans, that they will know when is the time of the clubs and when the time of the national teams. In truth, it is much neater for everyone, the players would stay focused and the focus on the competition they are playing for that specific period, without the interruptions that there are now. “

Asked about the accumulation of matches, including friendlies, Mascherano understands that with this new roadmap advocated by Wenger and FIFA, “the grace of reorganizing the calendar and qualifying, grouping the windows, is that we can have fewer matches and also You can think of reducing the number of friendlies that are played, focusing on games for points. In fact, This is another aspect that is being discussed, which is having a mandatory break for the players, which is something that does not exist now and that FIFA is watching. This agreement between all runs until 2024, but from there there is nothing agreed on the international calendar and I think we should take this opportunity to improve what we have. “

Javier Mascherano argues that with this scenario the World Cup would fit better every two years as there is a long period of “inactivity” for the coaches. “There are always things to do that are important, the games are not everything. But this is one of the reasons why this format would work, because it opens the possibility of having a second period in the year, at the end of the season, in which the teams would play for a long time.. And let’s remember that every two years there would be a World Cup, so there would always be many things to do and big tournaments to prepare for, “he remarked.

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The former captain of the Argentine national team defends the World Cup with determination every two years. Youth and their changes in habits and their way of consuming football must be taken into account.

“The world has changed a lot and it moves very fast. What were normal cycles before, are no longer normal now. I think it is too long for everyone to have to wait four years to see the most beautiful event in the world.. Young people now have so many other forms of entertainment that you have to capture their attention. Sure, football is strong and interesting, but I think we can’t take for granted that it will always be like this if we continue to use the same formulas that we have used for the last 100 years. Imagine that the World Cup has been held every four years because it is something that was established almost 100 years ago and many things have changed in football since the first World Cup was played, and we have to adapt to that change in time, “he stressed .

And he went further: “This brings me to another point, which is that the biggest clubs in the world are truly international teams and only a few have the capacity to have the best players. Before, local clubs represented their countries in some way, because most were players from the country. Now, especially in Europe, this is not the case, so it is in national team competitions where we can find the purest football, football where no team can buy players from others, where we play for our families, friends, honor and country, and where there are no big contracts, salaries or transactions involved. The truth is that playing for the national team is playing for our country because of the passion and love we have for it, and there is no greater pride for a player than that. We saw it now only with the Copa América, the Gold Cup and the Eurocup, where countries stand to support their national teams, “added the former footballer.

Asked if the World Cup every two years does not devalue the product and could lose attraction for routine, Mascherano argues: “I understand that there are people who can think that way, but I think this is because it has always been like that, a bit conservative thinking that I think is normal. But I am convinced that when it changes, many people will be so convinced that they will wonder why it had not always been this way. If we look at it coldly, we have fantastic annual tournaments like the Champions League and the Libertadores that do not lose prestige because they are played every year. “

Mascherano speaks of a championship that claims not to have too much pull at the international level, the Confederations Cup. “We also had a national team tournament every four years, that it was the Confederations Cup, that it really didn’t have much importance and few people in the world watched. This means that the prestige of a competition is not related to its frequency, but to who is contesting it. A World Cup is always going to be a World Cup, the most important and unique tournament in the world. In addition, there is another positive aspect, that we will have twice the chance of being world champions. I’m saying this a bit jokingly, but the reality is that for countries where football is not so developed, qualifying for a World Cup is everything and now they would have more opportunities to participate. For the most competitive countries, the chances of winning also increase, creating a virtuous circle“Mascherano said.

Mascherano supports Werner and asks for a World Cup every two years. “From a player’s perspective, no one can imagine the pressure that one has when we know that a single mistake can risk the only chance in life to reach a World Cup or to get something important in a World Cup. And it’s too cruel to have to wait another four years for a new chance“added the former Argentine River Plate and Estudiantes de la Plata player.

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