The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious competition in football. Held every four years, it is the biggest stage of them all, and has the entire world watching the spectacle.
International teams play football to etch their names in history and secure bragging rights and honours in front of the world.
It is held every four years, with the next one coming up in 2022. However, FIFA want to overhaul the format of the world cup. They want to host it every two years instead of four.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest contest in world football. The appeal of it rests on its exclusivity and once-in-four-years schedule. In that time, the footballing world undergoes significant changes. Legends may retire, players in their prime may age, youngsters may burst onto the scene, you know the drill.
The proposal to make it a biennial event seems to be feasible for FIFA. However, it has been unanimously criticised by fans and pundits alike. Moreover, it has faced stiff opposition from organisations like UEFA and CONMEBOL, who worry that such an idea will send their competitions into disarray.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is at the head of this idea, and he is convinced that this is the way to go with the biggest event in football.
The biennial World Cup may bring inequality
The idea of a biennial World Cup is obviously a cash grab. Let’s be perfectly clear about it – FIFA will do anything to fill their pockets with money. This idea is in the same vein, and the immediate concern regarding that is how it will widen the gap between the big and the small teams.
Those who back this idea are protecting their product and special interests. Why wouldn’t they, when the deal will be incredibly lucrative? However, football is a global sport, and that means that such an idea should benefit football all over the globe. That will not be the case, and it is an overriding and niggling issue to be dealt with.
The money from this deal will majorly flow to two continents in the world because most of the participants are from those two countries. In those countries, they will go to some clubs, and only the big ones at that. It is here that we must add that this is not just an inequality of revenue. The lack of funds automatically means that their opportunities, scope for development and chances at promoting their brand of football take a massive hit.
FIFA pushing the biennial world cup due to majorities interest
FIFA is pushing for the idea because they claim fans want to see a more common World Cup. They released an online survey asking fans of the same. They suspiciously never provided the data obtained, but put it out there that their findings showed “considerable differences between the so-called traditional markets and the developing football markets.”
FIFA announced that it sought the services of polling company YouGov. They also claimed that the 15,000 respondents selected for the purpose “were identified as expressing an interest in football and the FIFA World Cup, from a broader market research survey involving 23,000 people in 23 countries, across the organisation’s six confederations.” They stated that the majority of this group voted in favour of the idea.
Even though FIFA claims that the majority of fans want to see such a change, there are some notable organisations opposing the idea. UEFA and CONMEBOL already announced their disapproval of the idea. The UEFA-backed Football Supporters Europe group also took the same stance, and said that such a move will upset the balance of club and international football as we know it.
A final decision on the proposal will be made by a FIFA Congress. This process will take place in May, meaning there is almost a year left to debate the pros and cons of a biennial World Cup.
How much would it cost to play the World Cup biennially?
Naturally, hosting something like the World Cup requires a ton of money and investment. Now, FIFA’s idea to make it a once-in-two-years thing means more money spent in lesser time. However, the World Cup is FIFA’s biggest source of income, and from their point of view at least, they will want to go for a biennial one.
The economic advantages of the idea are staggering. To put it into perspective, FIFA earned $6.4 billion from 2017-20, and more than 70% of that money came from the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. Hosting the World Cup cost Russia around $14 billion. However, their economy was boosted by an impressive $15 billion.
Therefore, should the biennial World Cup become a reality, countries will scramble for the bidding rights, It is essentially a free boost to the economy, and will significantly boost industries like tourism and the like. In fact, Qatar is expecting a $20 billion economic boost after winning the bid to host the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup.
However, FIFA faces a roadblock in the form of the European Club Association, which issued a statement voicing their disapproval of the idea.
“FIFA’s proposals would lead to a direct and destructive impact on the club game, both domestically and internationally,” the statement read. “In addition, the proposals would put players’ health and wellbeing at risk.”
UEFA and CONMEBOL also stand against the idea. UEFA hosts the Euro Cup every four years, which takes place two years removed from every World Cup. A biennial World Cup will ruin the competition and strip UEFA of a large portion of their income. As a result, they are already in talks to boycott the idea should it become a reality.