FIFA is set to discuss its controversial biennial World Cup plans at a virtual global summit with its 211 member federations on Monday.
President Gianni Infantino is hoping to use the meeting to garner support for a project which has been met with strong resistance, particularly from UEFA and South America’s CONMEBOL who believe it will devalue the competition.
As part of the recent consultation process, 166 of FIFA members voted in favour of a feasibility study into the proposals which will also see the number of international match windows every year cut from five to two (in March and October only).
Infantino, a former UEFA general secretary, has been looking at ways to increase FIFA’s revenues with the global governing body making significantly more money in World Cup years – earning $4.6bn during the 2018 tournament in Russia before dropping to $766m the following year.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s head of global development, believes the proposal will mean less travel for players and more meaningful games but crucially not an increase in the number of them.
Players are currently released for 50 days every year for internationals, spending 80 per cent of their time with their clubs and 20 per cent with their national team, with FIFA claiming this ratio will remain the same.
The organisation also published the results of a survey of over 30,000 people last week which claimed 63.7 per cent wanted to see more frequent World Cups, while 52.4 per cent also favoured a biennial women’s version.
FIFA is also considering revamping the Club World Cup and organising a global Nations League type tournament for countries who fail to qualify for the World Cup.
However, UEFA is in talks to set up a new Nations League from 2024 onwards which would include the 10 national teams from CONMEBOL – something FIFA views as an extremely unwelcome development.
As part of a continued attempt to strengthen their relationship, UEFA has already announced Euro 2020 winners Italy will play Copa America holders Argentina for a new intercontinental crown next year.