Supporters of a biennial World Cup are playing Russian Roulette with domestic league income

Craig Hanson 1 month ago

FIFA's supposed plans to stage a World Cup every two years could cost leagues and clubs billions

Former Arsenal manager and current Chief of Global Football Development at FIFA, Arsene Wenger is spearheading a consultation designed to adapt the men's football calendar starting in 2024. One of the most controversial proposals to come out of this thinktank is the idea of a biennial World Cup.

While Wenger himself described a chasm in enthusiasm between younger and older generations, when responding to the uproar brought about by his suggestions, YouGov research commissioned by FIFA itself found that the idea is unpopular across every age group with even 63% of 18-24 year-olds against the introduction of a biennial men's World Cup.

Many stakeholders in the sport find the concept deeply troubling and new research commissioned by domestic leagues has found that Wenger and defenders of this plan might be playing Russian Roulette with the very fabric of the game as we know it.

Opposition to the proposal of holding the World Cup every two years comes from many quarters of the game. European football's governing body UEFA and its president Aleksander Ceferin are understandably concerned and there are even murmurings of a possible boycott of any biennial World Cup by European nations, which would surely make the whole thing untenable as a sporting contest and a financial entity.

Leagues and clubs are also not too fond of the idea. Coaches and players who are already complaining endlessly about fixture congestion will hardly welcome an increase in international games. There are even concerns that this change could affect demand, oversaturating the product and making it less popular in the long run. This is something which is arguably well on the way to happening already with the world bombarded with far too much football. Proposals like this one, were they to be implemented, would only expediate that dip in interest.

Senior Analyst at Enders Analysis, François Godard said holding a biennial World Cup would be very risky. “My worry is that at some point demand collapses. The risk of a sudden dramatic drop is huge if you weaken the main product. If you change to this new model with a World Cup every two years, and games have to be moved from the weekend to midweek ,and you have a shorter overall season, and some players might not be available at some point, you weaken your core product.”

Perhaps the most damning criticism yet came out recently as the results of a study commissioned by some of the world's biggest domestic leagues  found that they could stand to lose up to €8billion in revenue as a result of this move. The report focused on the "Big Five" European leagues, MLS in the United States, Liga MX in Mexico, the J1 League in Japan and the South African Premier Division, and found that loss of TV rights, sponsorship deals and other financial ventures could cause a huge loss of overall income for the leagues and clubs in question.

Despite significant opposition to the idea, Wenger, FIFA and various other defenders continue to stand up for it in the press. Like the awarding of World Cups to nations like South Africa and Qatar, this idea is presented as a way of bringing football to the masses, a caring gesture designed to give every nation in the world the chance to dream of playing at a World Cup.

FIFA have already brought this dream a little closer by increasing the number of nations at World Cups, starting at the 2026 edition which is set to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, from 32 nations to 48. On top of that, Wenger and co believe that by staging these tournaments every two years they can push that agenda of inclusion even further without damaging the product. The result will probably be overkill for many fans and a probable dip in viewing figures across the board.

The proposals are welcomed by the smaller nations who rarely, if ever, qualify for a major international tournament, but it's not only those federations and FIFA who see the positives. Noël Le Graët, President of the French Football Federation told L'Équipe that he isn't opposed to the idea: “I have no opposition to a World Cup every two years, even if I want to take a closer look. It would be a mistake not to look at this project closely.”

Despite best PR efforts, even the least cynical observer of this situation could suggest that this is merely a cash grab on the part of FIFA. World football's governing body makes the bulk of its income during World Cup years, they usually take a loss every other year. By doubling the frequency of the tournaments, they'll double their money.

UEFA don't have that problem as, while they also have a four-yearly international spectacle in the shape of the Euros, they don't solely rely on this for financial gain. They host the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and now even Europa Conference League every year and benefit from the huge amount of interest and money which these competitions generate. FIFA, on the other hand, have the Club World Cup, which is an insignificant footnote in the football calendar.

It's understandable why world football's governing body would want to increase its revenues but in the eyes of many associations, leagues, clubs and professionals in the industry, this just isn't the way to go about it.

Whether or not these proposals will ever become a reality is hard to say yet, but if they do come into fruition they would certainly create a seismic shift in how football is played and consumed on a global level.

Stay up-to-date with all things football at Sporticos

We provide data, stats and analysis of games from across the world; a comprehensive TV guide which tells you exactly when and where you can watch your favourite teams in action; trusted, legal sources of live streaming, breaking news and so much more.

Check out our Live Football on TV page.
Here's our Football Live Streaming page

Follow Sporticos on Google News

Check Sporticos on Google News
Google News Feeds
Read more:

DAZN move closer to £580m BT Sport purchase

The streaming service is expected to finalise the deal before the end of January The ongoing saga over DAZN's intended buyout of BT Sport seems to finally be rumbling towards a conclusion, with sources close to the situation indicating that a deal may be completed within the month. Talks between the two broadcasters began in the summer but apparently stalled in December when Discovery threw their hat in the ring as a potential buyer. BT is said to be looking to offload its sports division as it hopes to focus on its broadband service. DAZN have been the most talked...

Interview: Derby County fans talk about the season so far and the future that might be around the corner

Amidst chaos off the pitch, Wayne Rooney is quietly plotting an incredible Championship great escape As administrators scramble to find a buyer for the club, the playing staff look to overturn an accumulative 21 point deduction dished out by the EFL which has made relegation almost a foregone conclusion. It is only due to the miraculous work of Rooney, his coaching staff and the players, that people are even able to discuss the possibility of what would be a truly historic achievement. Fans are rightly more concerned with the short and long term future of the club itself than with...

Premier League wins case against Chinese broadcaster PP Sports

The company based in Hong Kong has been ordered to pay £157m in rights fees to the EPL When the Premier League signed its broadcast partnership with PPLive Sports International in 2016, it was seen as a huge deal for both parties. It was to be worth more than £564m in TV rights, eclipsing the agreement with previous partner Super Sports Media. At the time the deal was touted as the league's largest overseas TV deal. Embed from Getty Images The broadcast partnership began at the start of the 2019-20 season and though it was supposed to last for three...