Denmark’s Hjulmand labels FIFA’s belated engagement of national team coaches a ‘sham’

October 20 – Danish head coach Kasper Hjulmand has criticised FIFA’s biennial World Cup consultation process with the world federation telling national team coaches from around the world that it will push ahead with plans that will dramatically overhaul the international match calendar and reduce the quadrennial cycle of the world’s leading sporting event. 

This week FIFA accelerated its consultation process – slammed by both UEFA and the IOC as not being an open and transparent forum – by summoning the national team coaches of all its 211 member associations to further detail and outline plans to stage the World Cup every two years, but Hjulmand, who led Denmark to the last four of Euro 2020 after the dramatic collapse of talisman Christian Eriksen, and qualified his team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, has labelled the consultation process a “sham”.

“But my feeling is that it was a bit of a sham hearing because I feel as if FIFA is really far with the plans,” said Hjulmand. “If FIFA now announces that the coaches have been heard and used in the process, then I do not think it is particularly nice.”

On Tuesday, FIFA and Wenger staged their first virtual meeting with the coaches, with a second slated for Thursday. In between, the FIFA executive will meet with council members in a bid to convince them to call for and stage an extraordinary Congress in December to vote on the biennial World Cup and, effectively, railroad through the plans. The world federation believes it will get enough support from members associations around the world to win the vote.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and a number of smaller Asian member associations have publicly backed FIFA’s plans. Hjulmand touched on the division between the bigger and smaller nations in the game.

He said: “I’m pretty sure that in a lot of countries in the world they see this as an opportunity. If you are a smaller nation in Africa or Asia, where football is on the rise, you would like more opportunities to qualify for an expanded World Cup, and that provides an incentive to vote for it.”

“Therefore, it is my feeling after the meeting that the proposal globally will have support. I see it as something that is overwhelmingly likely to be voted through. There is great concern about dilution in the parts of the world where we have a well-functioning football system and some good tournaments.”

The Danish coach also thinks the quality of the finals will be diluted. Denmark first qualified for the World Cup in 1986 and has become a more regular fixture in the modern era, sealing consecutive qualification for the global finals earlier this month with a 1-0 win against Austria.

The Danish FA (DBU) oppose the biennial World Cup proposal. They are part of the block of Nordic member associations who won’t back the plans because they argue the proposed match calendar would “cannibalise” the game and marginalise women.

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