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Global players’ survey gives thumbs-down to two-year World Cup

Paris (AFP) – Footballers around the world have given a resounding red card to FIFA’s proposal to hold the World Cup every two years, according to a survey by players’ global union Fifpro.

The findings, released on Tuesday, showed 75% of more than 1,000 male players questioned over the global governing body’s plans to shake-up the international calendar were in favour of retaining the tournament’s current four-year cycle.

In Europe and Asia 77% of players supported maintaining the status quo, against 63% from the Americas.

In Africa the figure dropped to 49%, with the remainder split between holding the competition every two or three years.

“While a clear majority of players support the current frequency of the World Cup, a demand exists, particularly in smaller and medium-sized markets, to further develop and strengthen national team competitions,” Fifpro said.

When asked to pick their preferred competition 81% singled out their domestic league or the World Cup “in its current four-year cycle”.

Fifpro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said the survey showed “most footballers around the world have a clear preference to play the World Cup every four years”.

He said the results also underlined the importance of domestic league competitions to players.

“These leagues are the bedrock of our game and we have to do more to strengthen them both for the sake of players and the overall stability of professional football.”

Another key finding he pointed out was that “only 21 percent of them believe that their voice is respected and that their well-being is adequately considered in the context of international football governance”.

“Therefore, this survey underlines the need for more collective bargaining frameworks in our industry, especially at the international level.

The controversial switch to a two-year World Cup cycle championed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino is opposed by a block comprising the European and South American federations and major clubs, but backed by the Confederation of African Football. 

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