Manchester City and Gareth Bale are the latest voices to oppose a biennial World Cup, amid widespread anger over FIFA’s lack of consultation on plans to radically change the football schedule.
The proposals – which were developed by Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s head of world football development – would lead to a World Cup or European Championship every summer, as well as potentially no club football in October as international qualifiers are played instead.
But speaking at a meeting of the European Club Association, Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano warned Fifa his proposals put the well-being of the players at risk. “There is no room for anything,” he said. “No room at all. Players can’t play more matches, that’s for sure.
Bale, meanwhile, believes that a World Cup every two years would rob the tournament of its “special feeling”. “I love the tradition of every four years – it has the prestige, like the Olympics every four years, I feel like a little more special doesn’t happen too often,” Bale said, captain of a Wales team which is currently seeking to qualify. for the 2022 tournament in Qatar. “I don’t like every two years, I feel like we’re losing that bit of history. The fact that it lasts more than four years and that the next one is long, makes it a little more prestigious.
Top European clubs and UEFA fear that there is little they can do to prevent Wenger’s proposals, which appear to have the support of the majority of Fifa associations, coming into force. Wenger even suggested they could be voted on in December, before going into effect after 2024. What still infuriates the clubs is that while Wenger has already informed L’Equipe – and also invited dozens of Former players and coaches, including John Terry, Michael Owen and Yaya Touré, in Qatar this Thursday to consult him – Fifa have yet to seek advice from the ECA, whose clubs pay player salaries.
Speaking in Geneva, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, general manager of Paris Saint-Germain and president of ECA, told Fifa: “What we want is commitment. But then let’s talk. Fifa has not approached us yet. Let them approach us, and then we’ll have a discussion. Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani expressed similar sentiments, saying: “I would like a World Cup every four years, but maybe there could be a discussion every three,” he said. declared. “Why shouldn’t Fifa get involved? In my opinion, there is a disconnect.
This week, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said that a biennial World Cup “would lead to less legitimacy and dilute the World Cup itself”.
Meanwhile, Fifa has been asked by ECA to urgently clarify whether Premier League players who have not been released for international assignments in Red List countries are allowed to play this weekend. .
The plea comes after Fifa confirmed that they had launched disciplinary action against Brazil and Argentina following chaotic scenes on Sunday, in which their World Cup qualification was suspended minutes after the kickoff. shipment after the arrival of Brazilian health officials in the field.
Brazil’s Health Regulatory Agency said four Argentinian players made false statements upon arriving in Brazil, omitting that they had been in the UK in the past 14 days. According to Brazilian Covid-19 regulations, anyone who has visited the UK 14 days prior to arrival cannot enter the country.
However, under current Fifa rules, players who are not released for international matches can potentially face a five-day penalty – putting the Brazilian trio of Liverpool of Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho at risk of miss the trip to Leeds on Sunday.
However, Charlie Marshall, the ECA chief executive, said such a sanction was unfair to Liverpool and other clubs given the Covid-19 restrictions in place in many countries. “This needs to be settled within the next 24 hours – Liverpool and the other clubs need to know if they can play against their Brazilians or if Fifa will apply the five day rule so as not to release the players,” he said. declared.
“We don’t think there should be penalties because if a player is to be quarantined he is not available to play again immediately for his club, so it would be longer than the agreed release period. We think Fifa has abused their position and they need to fix it.
Elsewhere in Geneva, ECA President Edwin van der Sar has warned the players are moving closer to leaving the pitch unless authorities do more to tackle racism. “We want the organizations to intervene,” said the former Netherlands and Manchester United goalkeeper, when asked about the racist abuse suffered by England’s Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham in Hungary last week.
“If there is widespread racism or certain actions, the players will take it in hand if organizations and governing bodies do not do enough. I think the moment is getting closer and closer. We need tougher action.