Manny Bezabeh ’22
The FIFA World Cup, one of the most prestigious sporting tournaments in the world, could have some major changes coming soon. A recent proposal from FIFA President Gianna Infanito suggests hosting the World Cup every two years instead of the normal four.
The main reason for this proposal is that it allows FIFA to hold major tournaments more often, increasing revenue and exposure. Arsene Wenger, Head of FIFA’s Global Football Development, believes this money can be invested in youth soccer programs in poorer countries that lack a strong foundation in the sport. This would give countries that have never competed in the tournament a better chance of qualifying by providing better soccer facilities and programs.
Wenger believes the quality of work at the youth level has a strong correlation to success on the professional stage. Another reason why some members of FIFA support a biennial World Cup is that it allows for meaningful games. The current format consists of several qualification games spread out over a period of three years. Members of FIFA want to change this to only six games of qualification for each team to drive up interest.
Those that oppose this proposal argue that altering the current World Cup format would lead to a loss of interest in the sport instead of benefitting it. Many have stated that hosting the tournament every four years builds a high level of excitement and makes each rendition unique. However, increasing the frequency of this tournament may reduce the anticipation for the fans and players and will cause the tournament to lose value.
There has been little support from players, as many are concerned about a lack of rest. Polish striker and superstar player, Robert Lewandowski, stated, “We have to look ahead, if we want to play a World Cup every two years, the level will drop. It’s impossible for the body and mind to perform at the same level.” French striker Kylian Mbappe echoed Lewandowski’s concerns and stated, “Over a season, we would have to play 60 games a year. The Euro, the World Cup, the Nations League… We like to play but it is too much.”
I believe there is no reason to change the current format as it makes each World Cup a special and memorable experience for everyone. Players play enough matches throughout the year as it is and by increasing the number of matches, the quality will only decrease. A final vote amongst FIFA Congress members on this matter is not yet scheduled, but will most likely take place soon. It is up to these members to keep the status quo and maintain the prestige of this unrivalled sporting event.
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