The FIFA Congress, which is currently being held in Doha, has a first surprise in store. The two-year World Cup is on the sidelines.
FIFA has rejected its two-year World Cup project from the menu at its congress on Thursday in Doha, casting doubt on the future of this reform, which has met with much hostility, especially among the stars of the round ball or the European federations and federations. Latin America.
Falling asleep or sheer abandonment? Impossible to get a clear response from the body to its willingness to double the frequency of its 2026 queen competition, where it has been held every four years since 1930 for men and 1991 for women.
There is no mention of this burning topic on the agenda of the congress that brings together the 211 affiliates of FIFA, Thursday at the Doha Exhibition Center (from 11:00 local time, 08:00 GMT). “For everyone involved in football, a two-year World Cup is out of the question. I’m glad FIFA understood that too,” assured UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin in early March, confident that the project was now “excluded”.
Many officials in the bodies share this view, especially as FIFA had given up planning a vote at its Doha congress in December, and does not even plan to discuss more broadly the revision of the international calendar on the 2024 horizon.
This concern about timing – if not burying the affair – contrasts with the fanfare launch last summer of a “feasibility study” of a World Cup every two years, which was then presented as a path to reform among others, but which immediately provoked fierce opposition. However, FIFA ensures that organizing one final phase of a major tournament each summer, alternating between World Cups and continental competitions such as Euro and Copa America, would benefit “everyone”.
In December, the world body promised an additional $ 19 million (16.8 million euros) per year. four-year cycle to each of its federations, thus quadrupling their “solidarity funding” from $ 6 million to $ 25 million over this period, if the reform succeeds. To defend itself from only wanting to ignite its revenue, FIFA also insisted on the increased chances of “beaming” that it wants to offer players, and on the reduction in the number of international ceasefires imposed on clubs each year.
Politically, the organization has also been the only bulwark against the expansion of sporting and economic inequalities on the football planet and secured support from African and Asian federations against the extremely prosperous European football.
Transatlantic League of Nations?
But UEFA immediately took the lead on the front of the rejection, quickly followed by its South American counterpart (Conmebol), then by the World Leagues Forum, which gathered around forty professional championships and a number of organizations.
What impact on the physical and mental health of the players, the economy of national competitions, the clubs forced to release their national matches, the supporters who save money and go out to accompany their choices?
“For us, it is not an idea, so it is useless to discuss it: it does not exist,” said Qatar leader Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, president of Paris SG and the powerful European Association of Clubs (ECA). These debates have gone beyond the boundaries of football, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since mid-October has been concerned about seeing the World Cup penetrate a little more into the territory of other sports.
What result for FIFA? Among the other avenues explored is a return to the Confederations Cup, a mini-tournament with eight selections played between 1992 and 2019, or an expansion to US teams in the League of Nations, created in 2018 by UEFA.
But “no concrete discussion has been initiated”, according to AFP a source with knowledge of the negotiations, especially since the sports authorities since the end of February have been monopolized by the unprecedented sanctions against Russia, after the invasion of Ukraine.