Gianni Infantino, FIFA President and Aleksander Ceferin
Aleksander Ceferin, the President of UEFA, has threatened FIFA with a European boycott of the World Cup if the competition moves to a two-year cycle.
In May, the FIFA Congress agreed to a feasibility study into the calendar change, after it was requested by the Saudi Arabian football federation.
Former Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s head of global football development, has developed the idea and has begun consulting former players and coaches.
In his proposal, international qualification matches would be consolidated into one or two windows and there would be a tournament at the end of each season, with the World Cup taking place every two years.
Wenger briefed journalists yesterday and he insisted that there would be no more matches than in the current international calendar, players would be guaranteed 25 days rest before the start of a new season, there would be less disruption of domestic football and fans would have the opportunity to watch higher quality international games.
But Ceferin was doing a briefing of his own and dramatically raised the stakes, by questioning European and South American participation in the competition if the reforms go ahead.
“We can decide not to play in it,” Ceferin told The Times. “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.”
A two-year World Cup would be highly lucrative for FIFA, which says it wants to give more nations the opportunity to compete in and host the blue riband tournament, as well as invest additional funds in player development around the globe.