The World Football Association insists the idea of having a World Cup every two years is a good one, stating that this will add $4.5 billion in revenue every four years. Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s president, didn’t disclose whether he’ll ask members to vote on the controversial proposal or not at the next Congress.
On Monday, Infantino presented the results of a feasibility study from consultancy company Nielsen. The FIFA boss would like World Cups every two years in both men’s and women’s football. At a virtual global summit, delegates were told Nielsen’s prediction is that revenue will jump from $7 billion to $11.5 billion if another World Cup tournament makes its way two years inside the current four-year cycle.
FIFA invited all 211 member associations to its virtual presentation. Participants were told that $3.5 billion would be placed in a solidarity fund, with all national associations granted $16 million extra funds.
Europe and South America oppose FIFA’s plans
The numbers put forward by FIFA are different from those inside the reports commissioned by the UEFA members. A report published by the World Leagues Forum last month said that FIFA’s proposal could cost domestic leagues and UEFA, European football’s governing body, an estimated $9 billion per season in lost TV rights and different commercial agreements.
On Friday, UEFA published its own report carried out by consultancy firm Oliver and Ohlbaum forecasting a revenue drop of between $2.8 billion and $8 billion over four years.
Infantino disagrees, saying on Monday that a biennial World Cup will benefit global football fans while helping to cut the funding gap between the rich and the poor associations.
“We can’t say to the rest of the world ‘give us your money and watch us on TV’. I understand that in some countries you have the World Cup twice a week because you have the best players in the world playing there. But in other countries, regions, even continents, you don’t see the World Cup, the best players, in one life, in one generation,” Infantino said. “The fan survey, which spoke to over 100,000 fans in 140 countries, showed that the young generation wants a World Cup more often,” he claimed.
Next year, Qatar will become the smallest country ever to host a World Cup. The longest distance between two stadiums will take just 50 minutes by car.
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) December 20, 2021
Wenger: ‘90% of this opposition is emotional’
FIFA has been seriously thinking about staging a biennial World Cup following a proposal from the Saudi Arabian football federation in May. The reform package was designed by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now in charge of FIFA’s global football development.
CAF, the African governing body, recently gave its backing to the plan, unlike UEFA and CONMEBOL, the football associations in Europe and South America. Last week, it was announced that the two were holding talks about the South American nations joining the UEFA Nations League.
“We face opposition but what I regret is that 90% of this opposition is emotional, not based on facts or analysis,” Wenger said. “We have to get over this fear because most of the emotions we face are based on fears about losing control of your own competition, which isn’t right. There is a demand from young fans and society for meaningful events. If we don’t create them, another sport will,” the 72-year-old added.
The next World Cup tournament takes place in less than a year in Qatar.