ARSENE WENGER ANNOUNCES RADICAL INTERNATIONAL PLAN
Since Arsene Wenger called time on his lengthy stint as Arsenal manager, he has been given an important job within the world of football and his new title reads as: FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development.
What does such a job title mean exactly? Ultimately it gives Wenger the license to make some rather radical suggestions on the future of the beautiful game and although some have already been accepted, there are some that also get left in the in-tray of his new FIFA bosses.
Of course, the job is all about ideas and although changes to the offside and handball laws have either been mooted or rubberstamped, the thought process of Wenger certainly does not stop there.
Because nothing is off the table when it comes to potential change and what bigger change could there be than the occurrence of the World Cup? A tournament that operates every four years and from that, the rest of football seems to neatly fit around it.
However, the former Arsenal boss now has the whole of international football in his headlights and with the Frenchman suggesting that we get a more frequent offering of FIFA’s crown jewel, it could be his most radical proposal of all.
Instead of playing every four years, the suggestion is two and it is not only the World Cup that would be part of this change, the UEFA European Championship would also see its lifecycle become accelerated.
These two tournaments would operate on alternative years going forward and with the 2026 World Cup hosts already in place, the schedule may look something like this:
European Championships: 2027, 2029, 2031, etc
World Cup: 2026, 2028, 2030, etc
The international game’s two biggest tournaments would subsequently be played on alternative summer years and there would no longer be a gap in terms of an off-season football festival. Sound to good to be true? It will if you are a fan of Brazil or Burkina Faso.
Because to facilitate such a radical plan, Wenger has suggested that all other international tournaments are scrapped. With their being six regional confederations that feed into FIFA, only UEFA would be allowed to keep their international competition.
However, UEFA would have to make a sacrifice themselves and this would come in the shape of their Nations League competition. Under the 71-year-olds potential edict, this nascent tournament would have to be binned as well.
A World Cup or European Championships every two years does sound tempting but its primary appeal is the four-year cycle and the build-up required to qualify for either or both these competitions.
Which means if you doubled the regularity in which they arrive, would you then halve the allure that they currently have? We’ve already seen that sometimes too much of a good thing, can end up being a detriment to the pulling power of sport.
You only need to look at the potential expansion of the Champions League to know that bigger is not always better and one wonders, if we really need a World Cup or European Championship at the end of every season to go with it.