Premier League and EFL voice opposition to plans for World Cup shake-up
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Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been tasked with examining whether shortening the gap between the finals from four years to two is possible, after a request from the Saudi Arabian football association to FIFA Congress in May.
Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European football’s governing body UEFA, told The Times that the plans would “kill football” and said countries from the continent could boycott the tournament. That followed a statement from the European Leagues group, whose 37 members include the Premier League, EFL, LaLiga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, joined the camp in opposition to FIFA’s plans.
“The leagues have firmly and unanimously opposed any proposals to organise the FIFA World Cup every two years,” a group statement read.
“The leagues will work together with the other stakeholders to prevent football governing bodies taking unilateral decisions that will harm domestic football which is the foundation of our industry and of utmost importance for clubs, players and fans across Europe and the world.
“New competitions, revamped competitions or expanded competitions for club and national team football both at continental level and/or at global level are not the solutions to the current problems of our game in an already congested calendar.”
Wenger’s proposed changes to the international calendar would mean a major finals every year, alternating between World Cups in even years and the continental finals such as the European Championship and the Copa America in odd years.
Within it, FIFA proposes to cut the number of international windows in a season to one or at most two, in October and March, with no national team playing any more than seven matches including play-offs.
“I tried to create a calendar that is clear, simple to understand and that is modern, that means a better separation between club football and federation,” Wenger said.
“By respecting this 80-20 per cent of balance, I believe, if I was in a club I would sign with both hands for that programme.
“It would give me time to have the players and get the focus on what is important for the club. Overall I would say the better separation between club and national team football would improve the quality of concentration on both sides.”