September 9 – Opposition against FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s plans to stage the World Cup every two years is growing, with the World Leagues Forum becoming the latest stakeholder to mobilise.
Africa and member associations in Asia have backed the idea, which is the subject of feasibility study following a motion by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation at Congress, but Europe is rallying to oppose the plans and travel of direction.
This time the World Leagues Forum, which represents 45 domestic leagues around the world, attacked Infantino and FIFA, writing that “a biennial World Cup would negatively disrupt the football economy and undermine players’ welfare in a calendar that is already overloaded.”
The statement read: “The World Cup is a symbolic and unique sporting event. FIFA’s leadership cannot be able to turn something exceptional into a commonplace event purely to serve their short-term interests.
“As the employers of players and developers of the game at domestic level, leagues request full and transparent discussions so that the football calendar, which requires a complementary balance between club matches and national teams, can be agreed upon by all parties involved to benefit the game at all levels over the long term.”
“Working together with all football stakeholders, the World Leagues Forum will ensure FIFA is not allowed to make unilateral decisions on the future of football against the interests of leagues, clubs, players and fans.”
But the World Leagues Forum could well be powerless, alongside a slate of protesters, including the European Club Association and UEFA supremo Aleksander Ceferin, who expressed his “grave concerns”, to stop FIFA, on a rampant PR push led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and the organisation’s current director of development, in pursuing a dramatic overhaul of the international match calendar and tournament football. The world federation says it launched a global consultation in summer.
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