September 20 – FIFA has begun the next phase of its consultation around the international match calendar, inviting members associations, confederations and other stakeholders to discuss controversial plans for the introduction of a biennial World Cup.
FIFA said that “stakeholders, including all confederations” were invited “at the beginning of September” to an online summit for members associations taking place on September 30.
Last week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called for a summit with his FIFA counterpart.
FIFA cites “a broad consensus within the game that the International Match Calendar should be reformed and improved” as a reason to advance the consultation process and adds that it “is committed to being a forum for meaningful debate by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders including fans.”
In a fan survey, commissioned by FIFA, a majority of fans in each age group preferred to maintain the quadrennial World Cup cycle, but Zurich still claimed it has the backing of fans for the biennial revolution because the survey showed that 55% want a World Cup more frequently.
The roll-out of the results of the fan survey was the latest act in FIFA’s aggressive PR push around its World Cup idea. The organisation’s director of development Arsene Wenger outlined the plans in Doha, alongside 80 legends who all nodded in approval.
FIFA said that it started the consultation in summer, but despite backing from Africa and a number of Asian member associations, the world federation might not be able to railroad through what would represent a dramatic overhaul of the international match calendar. UEFA, Conmebol, FIFpro, the World League Forum and national leagues have expressed their opposition to the ‘Wenger plan’, with some deeply entrenched battle lines being drawn that once again sees FIFA dramatically dividing the game as it flexes its muscles across its national federations.
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