UEFA criticizes biennial FIFA World Cup plans, calls for say on proposals

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UEFA has stepped up its opposition to pressure from FIFA for a two-year World Cup system, saying on Wednesday that world football’s governing body had yet to respond to its request for talks to discuss the proposals.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has deployed retired players and former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger in a campaign to gain support for the overhaul of world football, which UEFA says is the sign of “promotional campaigns of unilaterally predetermined concepts” rather than open consultation. to treat.

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Doubling the frequency of World Cups would create significant disruption for club competitions and continental tournaments, including the European Championship, as well as existing world events such as the Olympics.

UEFA is disappointed with the methodology adopted, which has so far led to the communication and open promotion of radical reform projects before having had, together with other stakeholders, the opportunity to participate in any consultation meeting, “the European football governing body said in a statement. declaration.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has previously said Europe could boycott the World Cup if Infantino succeeds in getting his plan approved by the FIFA Congress of 211 member associations. Most of these countries will never make it to the World Cup, which will feature 32 men’s teams for the last time in 2022 before increasing to 48 teams in 2026.

“There are real dangers associated with this plan”, UEFA said in a statement after an executive committee meeting. “The dilution in value of the World’s # 1 football event, whose quadrennial occurrence gives it a mystique that generations of fans have grown up with; the erosion of sporting opportunities for weaker national teams by replacing regular matches with final tournaments; the sustainability risk for players, forced to participate in high intensity summer competition every year instead of longer recovery breaks every other year. “

More than a week after asking FIFA “to organize a special meeting with them to be able to express their concerns about the impact of such plans”, UEFA said it had not yet received a response .

Major women’s tournaments, such as the World Cup and continental events like the European Championship, take place in odd-numbered years. The Men’s World Cup and the Euro take place in even years. FIFA’s new vision would mean a men’s tournament every year, including continental events.

“We are grateful for the attention given to the UEFA European Championship, with the proposed dual frequency of its final event,” said UEFA. “But we prefer to approach such a sensitive subject with a global rather than a speculative approach.”

UEFA has signaled “the risk to the future of women’s tournaments, deprived of exclusive slots and overshadowed by the proximity of the best men’s events”.

A World Cup would also conflict with the Olympics, unlike now, if the new plans are approved.

UEFA underlined “the impact on the world sports system and the respect that football, as the most watched sport in the world, must show to the consolidated exhibition and exploitation spaces used by other sports “.

FIFA has stepped up the publication of internal interviews with former players arguing for a review of the international match schedule and the hosting of the World Cup every two years. Infantino has not been available for comment since May.

“The serious concerns over the FIFA proposal (…) cannot be dispelled simply by promotional slogans not based on the supposed benefits of a denser schedule for the final stages,” UEFA said.

“Respect for a stakeholder consultation process – which must be impartial – would suggest refraining from campaigns promoting unilaterally predetermined concepts that no one has had the opportunity to see in detail and which have far-reaching effects. scale, often unexpected. . “


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