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England’s Southgate fears 2-year World Cup plan

London (AFP) – England boss Gareth Southgate voiced fears on Tuesday that the World Cup could lose some of its lustre if it were held every two years, warning other competitions would have to be sacrificed to make it happen.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now director of development at world governing body FIFA, has called for football’s showpiece competition to become a biennial event.

Southgate revealed after England’s 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Andorra on Sunday that he had spoken to the Frenchman about the proposals.

The England manager is keen for an overhaul of the football calendar, with players under increasing strain from the demands of the club and international game.

But Southgate is wary of tinkering with the format of a competition that has been played every four years, apart from cancellations as a result of World War II, since the inaugural edition in 1930.

“I can see the game always needs to evolve and be forward-thinking, but also there are some traditions that are very special and worth protecting,” Southgate said ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in Poland.

“It’s a welcome decision to discuss the overall calendar and that includes the demands on the players.

“We don’t need to put more into the calendar. If something is going in, something else has to come out so that requires all the governing bodies to come together and make sure that calendar gets sorted out.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin warned on Monday that holding the World Cup every two years would “dilute” the tournament.

“We think that the jewel of the World Cup has value precisely because of its rarity,” Ceferin said at a general assembly of the European Club Association.

“But holding it every two years will, by our opinion, lead to more randomisation, less legitimacy, and it will unfortunately dilute the World Cup itself.

“The international match calendar does not need that. Our players don’t need to see more of their summers spent on consuming tournaments rather than devoted to relaxing and recuperation.”

Wenger’s plan to compensate for the increased tournament load on players would include fewer qualifiers, collated into one international window during the season, and compulsory rest periods after the final stages of major tournaments.

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  1. Ra

    September 8, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    @Mercator. I think that the issue is that way too many countries participate from the start. There should be a Nations League for the smaller nations. One of the reasons I don’t want to change is that I love Conmembol qualifiers – fierce rivalries on and off the pitch.
    The EU qualifiers, with a couple of exceptions, are exceptionally boring! Such a bore! The 5-min Argentina-Brazil game + the confusion is WAY more entertaining! And now Brazil and the SA teams pressing FIFA to prevent these players from playing 5 matches. Even these political intrigues, à la ‘House of Cards’ is more interesting than these 5-0, 6-1 games.
    This is a game that will not be forgotten, unlike all the rest. And it generates a very healthy discussion that has been largely ignored by FIFA and IOC – how far are you willing to let go to keep the Circus going?

  2. Mercator

    September 8, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    @Ra – Of course it would bring more revenue, the US is not a small market no matter how uninterested most Americans may be in football. I don’t think football rights cost anymore for the Brazilian market than they do for the US, if anything, I expect they cost much less given the cost to watch in Brazil. Stick some Americans in there and interest in the US market goes up, US rights go up, and US rights are always one of the larger rights packages given how wealthy and large the US is. The growth comes from new US and Mexican revenues, because that’s 400+ million wealthy people much more interested in seeing their team play Argentina or Brazil than Belize. For the South Americans, the US is the biggest and most friendly untapped market they will get. Just hosting tournaments in the US significantly increases revenues.

    UEFA is not the EU, UEFA is twice the size of the EU. A fair breakdown of the confederations leaves one with 1/5th the member countries? You actually can’t even standardize the calendar or confederation tournaments when one confederation is that small. Merge them both after the 2026 WC and before the 2030 one in Argentina/Uruguay. You get a 50ish country 1 bln sized confederation, very similar to UEFA or AFCON. It would really improve both continental tournaments from a sporting and revenue perspective, and a higher caliber of team would qualify for the WC.

    I know it won’t happen for a variety of corrupt and self-serving reasons, but it would be best for the game. Yes DOJ was my point regarding the Americans, the DOJ starts prosecuting people when America pays attention and things don’t go their way. I don’t think AFA, CBF or any of them want that sort of attention. And I don’t think FIFA want’s another large confederation, backed by American prosecutors, throwing its weight around like UEFA does. World Cup II is much easier and allows everyone to grease their hands instead of actually trying to build the game.

  3. Ra

    September 8, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    @Mercator I don’t follow your argument. “another large, powerful confederation, particularly if Americans are involved”. Are you saying that the US is a soccer powerhouse or drives the economics of the game? Really?
    FIFA being FIFA, their real concern with the US is the DoJ. This is rumored to be the reason for the US being selected to host the 2026 WC as well as the reason why Fox was able to renew broadcasting rights for the US WC for ridiculously low prices.

  4. Ra

    September 8, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    @Mercator. Based on what was reported in the past, Conmembol has no interest in the merger.
    It is also a fallacy to say that it would bring more revenue. Audience and broadcasting rights costs are substantially bigger in Brazil than they are in the US, of course. It would bring a marginal amount of money and many more members wanting a piece of the pie. Conmembol would actually subside Concafap members and not the other way around.
    In terms of population, EU and SA are comparable (448M vs 423M) and both are soccer-crazy.
    It is a fair way to break down the confederations.

  5. Mercator

    September 8, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    @Ra – It makes no sense having a confederation like UEFA with 50+ members and then CONMEBOL with 10. CONCACAF with two giant members isn’t great in the long run. I have no idea why Oceana is even it’s own conference, that’s a complete joke. 4 confederations, all with 50+ members, would allow for confederation tournaments and qualifiers to be more standardized across the world (Nations League, for example, doesn’t work with 10-12 country confederations), and merging CONMEBOL and CONCACAF would in all likelihood make the US and Mexico much more competitive and give CONMEBOL countries a better shot at WC qualifying. The time zones also work, its 95% Spanish/English/Portuguese/French, even from a club perspective US/Mexico are probably well matched with South America. Many businesses have AMERICAS as a regional division for a reason. Libertadores and Copa would be much better with CONCACAF members, way more revenue as well.

    I don’t think it will happen of course. I don’t think FIFA has any interest in another large, powerful confederation, particularly if Americans are involved. I also don’t any of the CONCACAF moochers will want a system that makes it harder for them to qualify for the world cup and gives them less influence in the confederation (basically every CONCACAF member except Mexico/USA, even though this is 80% of the CONCACAF population).

  6. Ra

    September 8, 2021 at 11:54 am

    @Mercator Why join Cocafap and Conmembol? You don’t want the US to qualify for the WC??

  7. JP

    September 8, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Just throwing out a crazy idea. If they want to hold the World Cup every two years instead of four they should make it more exclusive.

    Treat the continental championships (now held every two years as well but on odd years?) as qualifying for the World Cup. Have to reach the quarterfinals or semifinals of the Euros, Copa America, Africa Cup of Nations, etc in order to play in the World Cup the following year.

    Keeps the World Cup’s prestige in tact and also helps lessen the burden of qualifying schedules.

    This would never happen because FIFA wants more teams and a diluted field already as it is, they’ll never go backwards in terms of the amount of countries who qualify

  8. Mercator

    September 8, 2021 at 9:48 am

    So crazy, they only want to do it because they get 80% of their money from the World Cup. Simple FIFA Math and more world cups = more money. I wish they would just scrap all the friendlies, scrap every international window except 1 week in fall and one in spring. Major tournaments every summer for 4-6 weeks. Combine AFC and Oceana and CONCACAF and CONEMBOL for 4 confederations of roughly the same size. Require every league take off for the international breaks and standardise the 4 year international calendar

    Nations League
    Confederation Cup
    World Cup

    The problem is they would have to stick to the schedule and slowly built the prestige and interest in Nations League and Confederations League. Much easier to just say there is a second world cup, immediate revenue.

  9. Daniel

    September 7, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    It’s never going to happen. If you have a world cup every 2 years how do you have the Gold Cup,Compa America,Euros,AFCON,AFC Cup? At all?

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