Gianni Infantino claims biennial World Cup ‘not FIFA’s idea’ despite backing Arsene Wenger’s plans

The Fifa president has claimed that the controversial proposal to stage a World Cup tournament every two years was not something that came from football’s governing body

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has insisted that plans to host a World Cup tournament every two years were not something the game’s governing body had proposed.

The idea prompted a wave of backlash from fans, pundits and players alike amid fears the workload placed on players was becoming too much as well as concerns it would take the gloss off a showpiece event. The Confederation of African Football were one of the few associations within the game to back the plans.

Infantino has previously claimed that those against the idea were simply “afraid” of change. More recently, however, the FIFA chief has explained how the concept of a World Cup every two years was never set in stone and instead just being explored. Speaking in Doha ahead of Friday’s 2022 World Cup draw, he said: “Let’s get the process clear here – the last FIFA congress asked the FIFA administration to start a feasibility study into holding the World Cup every two years.

“The FIFA administration under the leadership of Arsene Wenger did exactly that. FIFA did not propose anything, but came to the conclusion that it is feasible, that it would have some repercussions and impact.

“We found it would be feasible and even positive for a big part of the world, but there is of course also big opposition to it and that is where the discussion has to start.”

Ex-Arsenal boss Wenger is now FIFA’s head of global development and has been a very vocal advocate of hosting a tournament every two years for the good of the game. “The World Cup is such a huge event that I don’t think it will diminish the prestige. You want to be the best in the world and you want to be the best in the world every year,” the Frenchman told the BBC.

Arsene Wenger has been one of the biggest advocate for a biennial World Cup



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“I’m not on an ego trip. I’ve been asked to help to shape the calendar of tomorrow, I consult the whole world.” Wenger also claimed that the current schedule offers “no clarity, no simplicity, no modern way to organise a season.”

Studies into the plans have discovered member nations would pocket an additional $19m (£14.5m) every four years, but both Uefa and their South American counterparts Conmebol have voiced their opposition. The International Olympic Committee are worried more frequent World Cups will reduce the attention placed on other sports.

“We are looking at all options,” Infantino added. “We will take the time it takes with the utmost understanding of all positions.”

Infantino has previously made remarks that suggested he was keen on the proposal. “This topic is not about whether we want a World Cup every two years, but about what do we want to do for the future of our football,” he told a session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

“I think about the rest of the world… and the vast majority of Europe, then we have to think about what football brings. Football is about opportunity, about hope, about the national teams.

“We cannot say to the rest of the world give us your money, but watch us on TV. We need to include them. We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea.

“We need to give opportunities, to give dignity. Not by charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate. Maybe the World Cup every two years is not the answer. We discuss it.”

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