By Andrew Warshaw
September 7 – The war of words between FIFA and UEFA over the idea of staging the World Cup every two years shows no sign of slowing down with UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin once again denouncing the concept, this time saying it would “dilute” what makes the tournament so unique.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who now works for FIFA as its director of global development, is at the forefront of a consultation process, insisting a biennial tournament would not be about the money.
But Ceferin, not for the first time, shot down Wenger’s proposal in an address to the European Clubs Association’s General Assembly on Monday.
“You have probably heard that FIFA is conducting a feasibility study about the World Cup every two years,” Ceferin said. “Well, we think that the jewel of the World Cup has value precisely because of its rarity.”
The problem for Ceferin is that both Africa and Asia, the other two biggest confederations, have backed the study which followed a request from the Saudi Arabian federation that was approved by 166 national associations at FIFA’s annual congress in May.
But Ceferin argued: “Holding it every two years will lead to less legitimacy and dilute the World Cup itself. We think there is a space for everything and both national teams and clubs are fully occupying that physical and commercial space.”
Gianni Infantino, in a recorded address to the assembly, tried to downplay any rift, suggesting any change to the status quo would not go ahead without Europe being involved in the discussions.
“There are no taboo topics, the door of FIFA is open to any idea to any proposal,” he said.
“We shouldn’t take this consultation process as any sort of challenge, any sort of fight, as I’ve been hearing here and there. It is simply a way to try to make football, and global football, strong, and for this we need the help and the assistance of everyone.
“We are, and we will be, approaching you and we hope we can find something which suits, of course, the European clubs but also the clubs from all over the world, the associations from all over the world.”
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