By Samindra Kunti
September 1 – Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh have thrown their weight behind plans for a biennial World Cup, becoming the first member associations from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to do so in a significant boost to Gianni Infantino’s pet project.
In a joint statement, the four associations said they “are uniting in support of proposals to review the FIFA international match calendar”, arguing that this could “only be positive for football’s modernisation.”
FIFA senior director Arsene Wenger has repeatedly talked up the plans, claiming that “it is was fans want”, though with little hard evidence to back this up. Insideworldfootball sources say that Wenger is about to release his own proposal document for a revamp of the international calendar. It is a document that has been seen by a number of leading club officials.
The world federation has increasingly been promoting the support of prominent voices for the plans. At the end of May, Zurich launched a global consultation process on the future of the game, including the sport’s quadrennial high mass.
The new Asian unity seems aimed at drumming up even more support for a biennial World Cup, even before the feasibility study is completed.
Last week leading Concacaf nations Mexico and Costa Rica indicated in press reports that they would likely support the concept.
At the last FIFA Congress, Saudi Arabia tabled the dramatic proposal to look at the four-year World Cup cycle and duly gained support from 166 member associations with 22 voting against.
“Four-year gaps between FIFA World Cups is too great – and the window of opportunity too small – to preclude whole generations of talent. Less than a quarter of current AFC member associations have been represented in almost a century of FIFA World Cup finals in a situation where these tournaments are real drives of development,” read the joint statement.
The quartet’s support comes after Africa was the first to fall in line when the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) “gave its support to the project of a men’s and women’s World Cup every two years” in July.
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