World Cup

Gianni Infantino claims European Championships will match biennial World Cup schedule

Jamie Spencer
Gianni Infantino wants the European Championships to be held every two years
Gianni Infantino wants the European Championships to be held every two years / Amir Levy/GettyImages
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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has claimed that the European Championships will also be played every two years if he is successful with his plans for a biennial World Cup.

If that were to be the case, it would mean either a World Cup or European Championship tournament taking place every single year – and potentially no proper summer break at all for players from a host of top European national teams.

"The Euros would also take place every two years," Infantino told Radio Anch’io in Italy this week.

"In Europe, there is resistance because there is a World Cup every week with the leagues and the best players in the world but that isn’t the case for the rest of the world: it’s a month a year and we need to find a way to truly include the whole world in football.

"The presumptions are clear: 88% of countries, including the majority of those in Europe, have asked for the study and the study tells us that from a sporting point of view, a World Cup every two years would work: there would be fewer international matches but with a greater impact."

Infantino also recently presented findings from a review that a biennial World Cup could create an additional $4.4bn in revenue in the first four years, funding a $3.5bn solidarity scheme for football in developing countries.

The biennial World Cup project has general support in Asia, Africa and North & Central America, but has been widely panned in Europe and South America.

UEFA, who organise the European Championships, have criticised FIFA’s aforementioned study.

"It's simply a bad idea and it will not happen because it is a bad idea, not because we are opposing it," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said at Expo 2020 Dubai last month.

It is also worth highlighting that FIFA still has plans to expand the Club World Cup – until now a short winter tournament – into an expanded summer competition. It would have happened already but for the planned 2021 edition falling victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal to shorten the gap between World Cups from four years to just two came from former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in his role as FIFA’s head of global development.

Arsene Wenger proposed the biennial World Cup
Arsene Wenger proposed the biennial World Cup / Pool/GettyImages

One of the major criticisms is the increased demand on players, for whom the existing football calendar is already extremely demanding without major international tournaments more often. It also threatens to kill the relative rarity that makes the World Cup and other competitions special.

“Shortening the World Cup cycle would give the impression that football is all about money. And major sporting events need patience and time,” ex-Germany captain Philipp Lahm stated in a column for The Guardian, titled ’A World Cup every two years would finally kill football’s golden goose’.

There could also be an adverse effect on women’s international tournaments. At present, the Women’s World Cup and Women’s Euros benefit from typically being hosted in odd-numbered years – Euro 2022 is the one-off result of a pandemic-enforced postponement – and not having to share the spotlight with the equivalent male tournaments, which helps drive exposure and interest.


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