World association

FIFA refuses to back down on World Cup biennial plan, pledging £ 3.3bn in extra revenue


FIFA has refused to back down on its biennial World Cup plan and has pledged the additional tournaments will generate an additional £ 3.3bn in revenue every four years.

But Gianni Infantino, the chairman of the world’s soccer governing body, declined to say whether he would force the issue by putting the controversial proposal to a vote at the upcoming FIFA Congress.

On Monday, FIFA presented a feasibility study from advisory agency Nielsen on a biennial men’s and women’s World Cup at a virtual world summit.

Federation delegates learned that Nielsen predicted that playing two World Cups over a four-year period would generate more than £ 3.3bn in additional revenue, from £ 5.3bn to £ 8.6bn. billion pounds sterling.

The summit – to which FIFA had invited all 211 member associations – was informed that £ 2.6 billion of the additional revenue generated by the organization of biennial World Cups would be placed in a solidarity fund of member associations, associations countries with additional funding of £ 12.1 million. .

However, the precise method of distribution has not been specified.

The figures presented by FIFA to its member associations contrast sharply with the reports commissioned by the European associations.

A report published by the World Leagues Forum in November said the FIFA proposal could cost the domestic leagues and UEFA, the governing body of European football, around £ 6.8 billion per season in rights. lost television and other trade deals.

And on Friday, UEFA released its own report, carried out by strategic consultancy firm Oliver and Ohlbaum, which predicted that proposed changes to the international calendar could lead to a fall in the revenues of European national federations between 2.1 billion and 6 billion euros. pounds sterling over a four-year cycle.

Infantino argued on Monday that a biennial World Cup would benefit football fans around the world while also helping to narrow the funding gap between richer and poorer nations.

He said: “We can’t tell the rest of the world ‘give us your money and watch us on TV’. I understand that in some countries you organize the World Cup twice a week because the best players in the world play it. But in other countries, regions, even continents, we don’t see the World Cup, the best players, in a lifetime, in a generation.

“We have to think about all of these things as we go along.

“The fan survey, which reached over 100,000 fans in 140 countries, showed that the younger generation wants a World Cup more often.”

FIFA investigated the hosting of a biennial men’s and women’s World Cup following a proposal from the Saudi Football Association in May, with the proposals led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. But they have deeply divided.

CAF, the African governing body, recently lent its support to the plan.

However, UEFA and CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American football, strongly opposed. Last week it emerged that the two continental confederations were in negotiations for South American nations to join the UEFA Nations League – although FIFA may derail that plan by refusing to sanction the tournament.

Wenger said on Monday that a biennial World Cup would also help FIFA market football to younger generations.

“We are facing opposition, but what I regret is that 90% of this opposition is emotional, not facts or analysis,” he said.

“We have to overcome this fear because most of the emotions we face are based on the fear of losing control of your own competition, which is not fair.

“There is a demand from young fans and society for meaningful events. If we don’t create them, another sport will.

(Photo: Mikhail Metzel TASS via Getty Images)