FIFA Biennial Ground | American football players

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Through Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Sep 16, 2021) American Soccer Players – The mere sight of Arsene Wenger can convey powerful images to people around the world, even those who don’t support Arsenal.

For anyone who paid the slightest attention to the sport during its long heyday at the London club, the French professor was the epitome of evolution and innovation in what has in many ways become the most popular league. in the world. He modernized and globalized philosophy, tactics, recruiting and even the diet to create one of the most memorable club teams in modern history. These gunners helped set the stage for 21st century football as we know it.

Today, Wenger has made himself the avatar of another kind of brave new world. His current project is not a team but an idea and a controversial subject. As FIFA’s “Head of Global Football Development”, he is the point of contact for the governing body’s ongoing “feasibility study” regarding the organization of its World Cups every two years during the year. instead of four.

This rather revolutionary suggestion is the title of a set of reform concepts for the international football calendar being rolled out this month. In May, FIFA members voted, by a wide margin of 166-22, to explore a Saudi-led proposal to do so. The seemingly long-term theory exercise quickly turned into a public relations push featuring dozens of current and former prominent players and other personalities. Wenger has expressed his wish to move forward by the end of the year. The current structure is part of FIFA law. Its next congress, currently set for spring 2022, would seem the earliest possible date to act.

It’s not just that the world’s most beloved sporting event would happen twice as often. Its qualification mechanisms would be compressed into fewer and longer international windows than the current standard of five per calendar year. Wenger apparently prefers a plan of just two one-month windows per year, one in the northern hemisphere summer for flagship events and a second in October for qualifying. An alternative framework offers three, adding another in March to spread the duty of the national team. The plan would cut player travel between the club and the country in half, according to supporters.

Regional events like the European Championships, the Copa America and possibly the Concacaf Gold Cup would take place in odd-numbered years. Each major summer tournament would be followed by a mandatory 25-day player rest period. Newer or smaller competitions like the Nations League would appear to be over, perhaps even the revamped FIFA Summer Club World Cup. Overall, the schedule would devote 80% of players’ time and attention to the club’s ball and 20% to national team activities, which at first glance seems reasonable from FIFA.

It’s supposed to give us more popular games, tournaments and settings. Fewer trivial or uncompetitive confrontations. Less wear and tear on the body and mind of the players. Remarkably, this would effectively usher in three times as many World Cup slots as those available at USA 1994.

“I am 100% convinced that this is the right solution,” said Wenger, whose scope is so broad that he even takes into account the carbon footprint of sport. “In football, if you don’t play big competitions, you will play small competitions – don’t think we won’t play. Because this proposal respects the current 80/20 balance between cluba and international football, I would sign with both hands if I was in a club.

The clubs themselves aren’t that enthusiastic, starting with the traditional power base in Europe. UEFA is moved not only by the idea of ​​FIFA, but also by the way in which the governing body of world football is promoting it. European clubs, unions and fan groups seem to agree. This confederation could go so far as to carry out a boycott of its member countries, including many members of the world elite.

This week FIFPRO players’ union called Wenger’s plan “inadequate in the absence of solutions to existing problems” in a statement, adding that “without the agreement of the players, who bring all competitions on the pitch to life, none of these reforms “will have the required legitimacy. The current debate once again follows an imperfect process and approach.”

Still, FIFA President Gianni Infantino appears confident in the base’s widespread support from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Many of these federations feel stuck on the periphery of sport, with no love lost for wealthy Europeans. They might like the idea of ​​a more accessible World Cup and the share of the profits that FIFA is supposed to distribute in their direction.

Money, unsurprisingly, is at the heart of it all. Athletic’s Matt Slater reports that FIFA currently earns around $ 5.5 billion per World Cup cycle, most of the tournament year with deficits in the other three. Meanwhile, UEFA is harvesting nearly three times in the same period thanks to its Champions League and Euro flagships. It’s not hard to guess how that might change under Wenger’s vision.

So FIFA’s “exploration” suddenly feels more like a plea, or perhaps a freight train rolling downhill. Just a few days ago, Wenger and Infantino gathered a host of legends, including Roberto Carlos, Jared Borgetti and USMNT icon Alexi Lalas, for a luxurious trip to Qatar to present them on the merits of the biennial idea. Several seemed to be won over almost instantly.

“The current calendar, as far as the World Cup is concerned, was designed almost 100 years ago, so the world has changed completely since then,” said the Brazilian. Ronaldo told FIFA.com. “I believe that the time has come for us to grow with them, with the new generations, the fast information – it is very important for us.”

In an interview with Pablo Maurer from Athletic, Lalas said: “I said very, very clearly, I was one of the first to speak, that I came with an open mind, that I wanted to see the data, I wanted to see why Arsène Wenger and FIFA believe that is the way to go. I also said very, very clearly that I need to have opposing views.

While the world was much less interconnected during the tournament’s first decades, there is little precedent for other sports adjusting their own central events in response. Baseball, basketball, cricket, rugby and the Olympics have generally adopted quadrennial rhythms for their international championships, in many cases directly inspired by those of FIFA. Switching to the biennial would likely be a setback for women’s football as well, just as it creeps more into the mainstream.

A potent mix of self-interest and mistrust among the disputed football factions complicates this matter. The nuances of the problem make it even more difficult to grasp. Wenger and Infantino are aided by the widespread recognition that the patchwork quilt of windows, calls and club-country separations does not perform particularly well today. This has been pushed closer to the breaking point amid the compressed schedules inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can we have a constructive dialogue on this issue without demanding a rushed adoption of this drastic and far-reaching change? As a sanctioning body and an interested party in this affair, FIFA and its leaders do not really inspire widespread confidence. Who knows? Maybe Wenger still has one or two irresistible innovations up his sleeve.


Charles Boehm is a Washington, DC-based writer and the editor of The football thread. Contact him at: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/cboehm.

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