European Leagues warn FIFA’s push for a biennial World Cup is still very alive

By Andrew Warshaw

October 22 – Europe’s top leagues have cautioned that FIFA’s controversial biennial World Cup plan may not, after all, have been abandoned and have stressed their firm opposition to the idea as well as to any overhaul of the international match schedule.

Earlier this week, amidst a fierce backlash, FIFA president Gianni Infantino appeared to backtrack on the biennial proposal, instead announcing a somewhat nebulous “global summit” on December 20 to try to find a consensus to plot the way forward.

This means that in all likelihood there will be no formal vote among FIFA’s 211 federations, but the 39-member strong European Leagues umbrella  which comprises most of the Continent’s leading leagues, is not convinced FIFA has ditched the concept altogether.

European Leagues managing director Jacco Swart revealed his organisation had held a question and answer session on Thursday with Arsene Wenger, who is driving the project as FIFA’s head of football development. He said the feedback received following the FIFA Council meeting earlier this week suggested a World Cup every two years was still being considered within FIFA’s inner sanctum.

“We have understood very clearly that this does not mean that the proposal from FIFA is off the table,” Swart told a news conference Friday following the body’s general assembly. “We have no other alternative than to strongly reject the FIFA proposals.”

“The FIFA proposals are detrimental for the domestic competitions, for the clubs, for the players and for all the fans. Football as a whole cannot accept those proposals.”

Swart also insisted there should be “as limited changes as possible” to the current format of international breaks. Wenger has recommended fewer but longer, breaks in domestic seasons to play national team games.

Switching to concerns about a European Super League, European League chairman Claus Thomsen warned that although the project might seem to be dead in the water, it could easily re-emerge in a different guise – on a global scale.

“It may not be on the table today but it is a trend everyone should be very aware of,” Thomsen cautioned.

“It can come in other forms still. An expanded Club World Cup for instance could become a world super league.”

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