The head of the global footballers’ union FIFPro believes that a plan to hold the men’s World Cup every two years is “dead in its tracks,” and that FIFA should do more to promote the women’s version instead.
FIFA will hold a summit in December, with president Gianni Infantino still hoping for agreement on plans to hold the men’s tournament more frequently than the current four-year cycle.
However, opposition from leagues, players, and supporters groups has been so strong that the chances of a biennial World Cup taking place appear remote.
“There has been a lot of backlashes. “They have realized that,” FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said of FIFA’s proposals to AFP.
“It is quite clear that if you try to push this through against the interests of all these other stakeholders, and without their agreement, it will most likely fail.”
FIFPro, which is made up of national member associations from 64 countries, is one of several football organizations that have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of consultation on the issue.
Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s head of global development, proposed the proposals.
Baer-Hoffmann questioned whether more frequent World Cups would be economically sustainable, but he stated that a solution is already in place.
“When we first met with FIFA, we asked for an economic analysis, which we haven’t seen.”
I don’t believe a second World Cup would simply multiply current revenue by two. “It’s not like you just double the value in sponsorship and so on.” The truth is that there are already two World Cups every four years. We should make the women’s issue a higher priority. That is your second World Cup appearance.”
Regardless, the World Cup is expanding in another way, with the men’s version expanding to 48 teams in 2026 and the women’s version expanding to 32 teams in 2023.
Super League threat ‘will come back’
Other competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League, are also expanding to include more games, but FIFPro is concerned that footballers outside the men’s elite are not getting enough playing time.
“If you’re playing in a market that doesn’t have the economic means of the big European markets, then you’re looking at innovation in competitions, club or country, that puts more meaningful and economically viable games in your schedule,” Baer-Hoffmann explained.
“There is no doubt that reforms are required. Many parts of the world will not evolve if we continue to play football like this.”
FIFPro announced a joint manifesto in Brussels with the European Leagues organization, which represents over 1000 clubs from 30 countries. It advocated for greater influence over decisions affecting the sport’s future, which is especially important in light of the failed breakaway Super League project.
That project could simply be dormant. Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus are the three remaining rebel clubs.
UEFA initiated disciplinary proceedings against the remaining clubs but withdrew after a commercial court in Madrid ruled that any punishment would violate European free trade laws.
The decision was appealed to the European Court of Justice.
“The factors that prompted this attempt to break away have not changed significantly,” Baer-Hoffmann said.
Following widespread opposition, the plan was scrapped in April.
“However, I believe we must be realistic. This isn’t dead, and I believe it will return, so football better prepare to face it again.”