Paul Ince Exclusive: World Cup Shouldn't Be Every Two Years
The whole footballing world raised an eyebrow when Arsene Wenger revealed his plans for the World Cup to take place every two years. Arsenal’s former manager now works as FIFA’s chief of global football development and his suggestions have divided the globe – with Europe and South America opposing the biennial proposals, while Asia and Africa appear largely in support of it. UEFA have made no secret of their disdain for the concept – and it’s not hard to see why, with their successful and lucrative European Championship tournament under threat. But would a more frequent World Cup actually be bad for football?
The new plans would see the number of international breaks during the season reduced from four to two. They would take place in March and October, for countries to play in a four-team, six-match qualifying campaign – plus a potential play-off.
This would ultimately help players that compete internationally across the globe but play in Europe, as it would dramatically reduce their travel each season.
Wenger also believes that the plan will increase the amount of competitive fixtures that international teams take part in.
There is something uniquely special about a World Cup, as football supporters everywhere come together for a month – admiring the best football that the planet has to offer.
But what makes it equally exceptional is the fact that it only comes around once every four years.
Winning a World Cup is a bigger achievement because of how rare it is. The more frequently it takes place, the less glamour there would be in winning the trophy.
Another key factor to consider is the taxing physical effects that this change would have on players.
The last two seasons have been truncated due to the global pandemic, which has seen a dramatic rise in the amount of muscle injuries that players have been picking up.
And that trend does not look like stopping any time soon. The Premier League is set to begin a week earlier and finish later in 2022-23, due to the World Cup in Qatar taking place midway through the campaign.
One downside that has been largely swept under the rug is that the changes would make international tournament football even more unaffordable for the everyday fan.
As it currently stands, supporters have the World Cup to attend every four years, and then a continental tournament in between that.
But if the World Cup was to become biennial, that would mean a major competition in at least three of every four years – something which would not be financially feasible for the majority of supporters.
The Expert Opinion
Paul Ince, who was part of the England squad that reached the Round of 16 at the 1998 World Cup, has spoken exclusively to Genting about the proposals.
He said: “I think it’s ludicrous, I really do. I’ll tell you the reasons why; I think it is just another money-spinning event from FIFA.
“I can’t understand it. We’ve just come from a pandemic, players have hardly had a rest. Players aren’t robots, we’re human beings.
“To think that they can actually play in the World Cup every two years with a European Championship in between that – it baffles me, and it can only be a money-spinning event.
“Players need their rest. What you’re going to see now, and what we saw previously, is players just keep breaking down because they’re playing too much football. Too much is being asked of them.”
With so many issues to resolve, it is hard to see Wenger’s ideas getting much support in the European or South American corridors of power any time soon.