UEFA slam FIFA with ‘serious concerns’ over biennial World Cup plans

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The European federation says that there are “real dangers” that could impact all levels of football

UEFA have “serious concerns” over FIFA’s proposal for a biennial World Cup, with the federation saying those proposing the plan have excluded stakeholders from discussions over the proposed schedule.

FIFA has proposed a dramatic change to world football that would see the World Cup held every two years, with UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin already stating that Europe could boycott the World Cup if the change goes ahead.

UEFA have pointed to the impact such changes could have on club football, players and other international competitions like the Euros, Olympics and Women’s World Cup, relaying what they see as “real dangers” that would arise from the potential changes.

What did UEFA say?

“UEFA is disappointed with the methodology adopted,” UEFA said in a statement, “which has so far led to radical reform projects being communicated and openly promoted before having been given, together with other stakeholders, the chance to participate in any consultation meeting.

“There are real dangers associated with this plan: the dilution of the value of the No 1 world football event, whose quadrennial occurrence gives it a mystique that generations of fans have grown up with.

“The erosion of sporting opportunities for the weaker national teams by replacing regular matches with final tournaments; the risk to sustainability for players, forced to engage in summer high intensity competitions every year instead of longer recuperation breaks in alternate years.

“These are just some of the serious concerns that the FIFA proposal provokes at first glance and they cannot be dispelled simply with unsubstantiated promotional slogans on the supposed benefits of a thicker calendar for final tournaments.

“UEFA is of the opinion that the future of the international calendar should be the subject of genuine consultation and exchange between FIFA, the confederations and key stakeholders of competitions.

“Kicking off with an open discussion on perceived problems and considering a range of solutions that will be identified in the course of the debate, taking into account the interest of the game and the legitimate point of view of the different parties. 

“In this phase, the respect for a consultation process with the stakeholders – which should be unbiased – would suggest abstaining from promotional campaigns of unilaterally pre-determined concepts that nobody has been given the possibility to see in detail and which have wide-ranging, often unexpected, effects.

“On 14 September, UEFA and its 55 member associations asked FIFA to organise a special meeting with them to be able to voice their concerns on the impact of such plans. UEFA and its 55 member associations have to date not yet received a reply from FIFA on this request.”

What have others said?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been among the critics of the proposed plan, which has been supported by Arsene Wenger and a number of ex-players in recent weeks.

Klopp said that he believes that player welfare continues to be an afterthought to the game’s powerbrokers as fixture congestion continues to pile up.

Sergio Busquets has also warned against adding more competitions, saying there will come a point when players will “explode” from burnout.

England boss Gareth Southgate meanwhile says he has met with Wenger to discuss the proposal and is generally open to it while acknowledging that scheduing would need to be changed for a biennial World Cup to work.

Further reading

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