By Paul Nicholson
October 11 – Former FIFA Deputy Secretary-General, Zvonimir Boban (pictured), has hammered the idea of a biennial World Cup as an ‘absurdity’ that no ‘normal person’ in football would accept and that “we have to fight it”.
Boban left FIFA after three years to return to his former club AC Milan in 2019, before joining UEFA as Chief of Football in April this year.
Speaking at the Festival of Sport organised by Gazzetta dello Sport in Trento, he argued that there needed to be more consultation over the big issues in football and that eco-system changing orders can’t just be sent down from on high.
He also argued that one major flaw in the international calendar is that it is not travel that is the most damaging to player welfare but having to play three games in a row in expanded international windows.
“Every normal person who understand and respect football, cannot accept the biennial World Cup idea. You would cancel 100 years of history of the World Cup, the best competition in the world (spectators applauding),” he said.
“Football cannot be revolutionized unilaterally without a good consultation with all the parts involved and ordering other institutions to do other things: UEFA must organize EURO every two years, domestic league must cut the number of teams, this and that. The most absurd thing, even if probably clubs don’t realize it yet, is the two windows for international breaks. Three games in a row and a player is dead. Two games you can recover, three not. Travels don’t hurt footballers, too many games in a row do.”
As to the people behind the proposal, he said: “It is such an absurdity that I could never imagine that could come from a president I still love after working with him for three years or from a football person like Wenger. This is idea is so crazy that we really have to fight against it because it would hurt everybody.”
Boban was similarly dismissive of European Super League proposal calling it “a shameful attempt to erase 140 years of football history for personal interests. They have forgotten that they have grown up through small teams, competing with them and creating that fantastic system that is football. The reaction of the people is everything: football is not owned by FIFA, nor by UEFA, not by these gentlemen. It belongs to those who love it.”
Boban’s contempt for the ESL methodology was mirrored at the event by LaLiga CEO Javier Tebas who said: ““I have said it many times to Agnelli (Juventus owner): ‘Do you want to go to the Super League where Real Madrid and Barcelona will earn more and more than you?’”
Tebas also questioned FIFA’s governance in the way it was conducting the process as well as sending an reminder that it isn’t FIFA, and its federations who pay player wages but the clubs who fit the bill and allow FIFA and it members to make money off their workforce.
“Football has a problem with governance. FIFA want to change the international calendar with a unilateral decision. This has an impact on the leagues. If you want to take a decision with an impact on domestic leagues, the FIFA Exco cannot just take the decision with Salomon Islands voting too. With UEFA we have reached agreement with leagues. The biennial World Cup will have an impact on revenues of clubs like Torino and other Italian clubs, no doubt about that. Clubs are giving their employees for free in order to create revenues for others. Leagues cannot just be consulted in the decision-making, they need to be part of the decision,” said Tebas.
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