European football’s governing body UEFA has slammed FIFA for pushing its plan for a two-year World Cup and urged it to instead engage in “genuine consultation” over reform of the international match calendar.
“UEFA is disappointed with the methodology adopted, which has so far led to radical reform projects being communicated and openly promoted before having been given, together with other stakeholders, the chance to participate in any consultation meeting,” UEFA said in a statement on Wednesday.
FIFA is conducting a feasibility study into holding the World Cup on a biennial basis, a change from the current four-yearly cycle, but has made no secret of its desire to switch to such a format.
Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager who is now FIFA’s head of Global Football Development, said this month he was “100 per cent convinced” of the switch.
UEFA said there were numerous concerns about the impact of such a switch, including the “dilution” of the World Cup’s value, risks of players being over-worked, and women’s football suffering from annual men’s tournaments.
“These are just some of the serious concerns that the FIFA proposal provokes at first glance,” the statement added. “And they cannot be dispelled simply with unsubstantiated promotional slogans on the supposed benefits of a thicker calendar for final tournaments.”
UEFA said it had asked, on September 14, for a meeting with FIFA and the 55 European member associations but had yet to get a reply.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin warned this month of a potential European boycott of the World Cup if FIFA’s plans went ahead.
But the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said they were not opposed to the idea.
“We can decide not to play in it,” Mr Ceferin, head of European soccer’s governing body, told The Times newspaper. “As far as I know, the South Americans are on the same page. So good luck with a World Cup like that. I think it will never happen as it is so much against the basic principles of football.”