Why holding the World Cup every 2 years is a terrible plan
FIFA is floating a plan to hold soccer’s World Cup, the planet’s biggest sporting event, event two years. Here’s why it’s a terrible plan.
Soccer fans can all agree that nothing beats the excitement, thrill and drama of the World Cup.
Part of that comes because, like the Olympics, the tournament is held every four years. That goes for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Everyone, it seems, can agree on how special the timing of the World Cup is but the very organization that puts the tournament together.
FIFA, in an effort to milk more money from the cash-cow that is the World Cup, has put forth a proposal to hold the tournament every two years. The idea is part of a larger proposal to amend the international soccer calendar, reduce travel for players and cut down on meaningless friendlies. Those are great ideas, but fixing the international calendar should have nothing to do with diminishing the mystique of the World Cup.
The Premier League on Thursday became the latest organization to douse cold water on FIFA’s biennial World Cup plan.
“All 20 Premier League clubs have discussed the post-2024 International Match Calendar reform process and are unanimously opposed to FIFA’s proposal for biennial men’s World Cups, along with any plans involving significantly extended international windows,” the league said in a statement.
“Clubs raised concerns about the negative impacts FIFA’s current proposals would have on player welfare, the fan experience, pre-season preparations and the quality of competitions.”
UEFA, soccer’s European governing body, the International Olympic Committee are two of the most-prominent organizations to voice opposition to the proposal.
UEFA has even threatened to leave FIFA should the motion be adopted.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who is working with ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former U.S.
women’s coach Jill Ellis to gain support for holding World Cups every two years, has said the plan would help more nations qualify.
But support for sticking with the current four-year cycle is coming from the likes of Finland and the Faeroe Islands, for example, which are countries that have never qualified for the World Cup.
And the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will feature 48 teams, up from the current 32 who qualify for the finals.
A vote had originally been scheduled for next month. If approved by a majority of FIFA’s 211 national federations, the motion would pass.
But the plan stalled in recent weeks as opposition has grown. Infantino instead announced FIFA would host a remote “global summit” on Dec. 20 to discuss the future of the international game and “try to reach a consensus.”
The real reason FIFA, an organization that has had its share of money scandals in recent years, wants to alter the four-year World Cup cycle is money.
FIFA makes $6 billion in a four-year cycle compared to UEFA’s $14 billion fueled by the annual Champions League.
Holding the World Cup more frequently wouldn’t double revenues. After all, there is a finite amount of money FIFA can squeeze from TV rights and commercial sponsors.
it’s true that FIFA would like to see nations such as China and India qualify for the finals. Both represent big markets, but are also teams not competitive enough to qualify.
In a column last month for The Guardian, former German star Philippe Lahm wrote: “Major sporting events need patience and time. Shortening the cycle would confirm that the game really is all about money.”
When it comes to the World Cup, less is indeed more.
Holding it would water down an amazing event and cheapen the nearly-100-year-old tournament. This is something most soccer fans can agree on. FIFA should listen to them.