AFC Backs biennial World Cup review

Fifa's proposal splits confederations around the world, with a possible vote in December

KUALA LUMPUR • The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) yesterday said it welcomed world governing body Fifa's plan to conduct a feasibility study into staging a biennial World Cup, instead of once every four years.

The proposal has been met with opposition, with Europe's governing body Uefa rejecting the idea while the South American confederation said it was "highly unviable".

However, the Confederation of African Football and the AFC are said to be in favour as a biennial competition would create more profits that could be redistributed.

The bodies are far more reliant on Fifa's funds than their European counterparts.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) also said on Monday it was open to the idea of a biennial World Cup, provided that it creates a more balanced structure for the game globally.

It added that it recognised the merits of creating a new football calendar if it meant fewer international windows, less travel for players and more competitive games instead of friendlies.

However, Concacaf has also asked for wider consultation with stakeholders.

"We will continue to look at these proposals constructively, with an open mind, and in the spirit of positive engagement," it said in a statement.

"While Concacaf's immediate focus is on its own region, we also believe in the importance of being part of the global football family and we will listen to the views of football stakeholders in all parts of the world.

"We encourage not only our fellow confederations but also all members of the global football family to come together and work collaboratively to create Fifa calendars and competitions that have benefits for the development of the game in all regions across the world."

In May, Fifa's congress voted to carry out a feasibility study on holding the men's and women's World Cups every two years.

A final decision will be taken by the 211 Fifa member associations and organisation president Gianni Infantino is reportedly keen to put it to a vote in December.

As Fifa toys with the radical idea, other sports are also considering a similar revamp.

World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin has said staging the Rugby World Cup every two years instead of every four is an "interesting concept" but that any plans would have to be discussed with all parties involved before it can be considered.

Gilpin, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and Claude Atcher, director general of the Paris 2023 World Cup, met earlier this week, and the Telegraph reported that staging a biennial competition was among the items on the agenda.

"Biennial World Cups have been considered before and they're definitely something that we will continue to consider," Gilpin said.

"But the men's calendar is very congested and complex, with a lot of different stakeholders, and we have to make sure we engage with them all before we consider a World Cup every two years."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2021, with the headline 'AFC Backs biennial World Cup review'. Subscribe