World Cup: Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin rejects idea of biennial tournament

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Aleksander Ceferin
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin says a biennial World Cup would dilute the game

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has rejected the idea of holding the World Cup every two years, saying it would "dilute" the tournament.

Fifa is holding a feasibility study into a biennial men's and women's World Cup following a proposal from the Saudi Arabian football federation in May.

The consultation process is being led by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

"The jewel of the World Cup had value precisely because of its rarity," said Ceferin.

Speaking in person in front of 160 club representatives at the General Assembly of the European Clubs' Association in Geneva, he added: "Holding it every two years will lead to more randomisation, less legitimacy and unfortunately, dilute the World Cup itself."

The men's World Cup has been held every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 because of World War Two.

The women's tournament has also been every four years since it began in 1991.

Wenger, chief of global football development at Fifa, said in May that he wanted to see the World Cup and European Championship played every two years and have Fifa "kick all the rest out".

In his own video address, Infantino did not mention the World Cup. However, he said there needed to be a "fundamental" rethink around the international calendar with "no taboo topics".

"We should not take it as any sort of challenge and fight," he said of Wenger's consultation. "It is a way to make global football strong. We have to give to fans even more reason to enjoy our sport.

"The door of Fifa is open to any idea to any proposal."

England boss Gareth Southgate is keen to avoid an increase in workload for the players
England boss Gareth Southgate is keen to avoid an increase in workload for the players

Southgate 'open-minded' about proposals

While Ceferin was dismissive of the idea, England manager Gareth Southgate said he was "open-minded" to Fifa's proposals, saying that the football calendar "generally needs to be tidied up".

Speaking after the Three Lions' 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Andorra on Sunday, Southgate revealed that he has spoken to Wenger and is open to the possibility of changes, but believes the schedule is already gruelling and is therefore keen to avoid further increasing the players' workload.

"I think the whole calendar needs reviewing," said Southgate, who also stressed the need to consider the players' input on proposals.

"My feedback would be - I don't know how our generation are going to find a World Cup every two years a strange concept. 

"But I also know that things like The Hundred in cricket have been an incredible success, so I'm open-minded about some of those things. But the calendar generally needs to be tidied up. We can't keep adding more things in. 

"I agree generally with the concept of better quality matches. Fewer matches, better quality across the board, but there's lots of other things that need consideration and we can't just add more in at the moment."

Southgate, whose England side are on course to qualify for next year's World Cup in Qatar after five successive qualifying wins, added: "I also get it that if you are a player who has an injury for the World Cup, you might only get one opportunity every eight years, and that is really tough. I'm not certain on that side of it.

"The players' unions could gather the thoughts of the players and I just think everybody has to work together on the calendar. It has to be coordinated. If we are looking that far ahead, there is no reason it can't be."

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