Opinion: FIFA’s Scottish invite to World Cup debate is proof the biannual idea is being taken seriously

Only in May did Saudi Arabia debut what seemed like a half-finished idea, as coaches always say players need more rest, not more trophies.

But the fact that 166 out of 211 countries supported a feasibility study on the Saudi plan shows how easy it is to implement this idea, which is supported by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Note that the sport’s world governing body is already publishing polls that fans support a plan that could dramatically increase the $ 1 billion in revenue it currently makes from the tournament every four years.

Two continental confederations, UEFA and its South American counterpart CONMEBOL, opposed the proposal.

But the other three main bodies where the vast majority of the votes reside – the Asian Football Confederation, the CONCACAF North America region and the African Football Confederation – welcomed them, not least because they would get more money from the FIFA.

Given this, it is unlikely that the European and South American blocs will raise a third of the probable total to block any proposal since they only collect for 65 of the 211 members of FIFA.

It seems that yes, come vote next year, ‘What FIFA wants, FIFA gets’ and we can say goodbye to the preseason training for our national tournaments and get used to the idea of ​​a Winter World Cup with more countries in the hottest parts of the planet that host the host.

One of the most fervent opponents of the idea is Jürgen Klopp, who highlighted the idea of ​​a mandatory 25-day rest period for players at the end of the tournament, proposed by the rational architect of the idea, Arsene Wenger.

When the Premier League lost last season due to the Covid pandemic, the coaches claimed that the lack of preparation of the players led to more injuries.

But the fact that this becomes the norm is what Klopp refutes, as he mourns the loss of his club’s ability to get far ahead of the season and prepare for next year.

But for every Klopp and Gareth Bale, who have spoken saying that the World Cup is special because it is only held every four years, there is Ronaldo (Brazilian), Peter Schmeichel or Yaya Touré who say it is a good idea.

Everyone agrees that the international calendar needs a reform; What a soccer fan doesn’t get is that sinking feeling when games are stopped so their country can play a game that nobody cares about.

Another reasonable gentleman, Gary Lineker, said that he would like to have the World Cup every year and get the Champions League as much as that doesn’t lighten the aura around him.

But he also pointed to the need for fewer qualifiers, perhaps in one place to reduce soccer’s carbon footprint and end the five international breaks in September, October, November, March and June.

Even UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin claimed that opponents of the proposals could boycott the event if the plans are approved, stating bluntly: “We can decide not to play. As far as I know, the South Americans are on the same page. Good luck in the Cup. The world is like this … ”

And while a World Cup without Europe and South America would be largely meaningless, it would be a loss for everyone.

The task of the Saudi Federation of Sports for All is now to join with other football bodies and use Wenger’s plans as a springboard to propose reforms that work for everyone.

For example, Leeds United manager Andrea Radrizzani suggested hosting the World Cup every three years.

Wenger’s plan includes hosting tournaments for the federation, such as the Euro or the America’s Cup, also every two years, but does not take into account the Olympics, which include soccer, and the recent Women’s World Cup. Land.

He can see the appeal of countries outside of Europe and South America to the scheme – it gives them a better chance of appearing in the tournament, although it’s hard to see how the same teams won’t qualify.

But if, as Wenger insists, these are also more significant international matches, that is something that everyone can agree on.

The engagement, like every three years, is where we could end, but as president of the Association of European Clubs and president of Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a Ceferin ally, said:

“What we want is to participate. But then let’s talk. FIFA has not contacted us yet. Let them come to us and then we will talk.”

In other words, it is as much about a power struggle between FIFA and UEFA as it is about a roadmap for the future of world football.

Anthony Harwood is a former foreign editor of the Daily Mail.