Pep Guardiola played for Spain in the 1994 World Cup and says he enjoys watching it now as a supporterLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has criticised plans to host the World Cup every two years as being “all about money” – but Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is in favour of the idea.
Fifa is holding a feasibility study into staging men’s and women’s events biennially rather than every four years.
Clubs, leagues, governing bodies and even the British public have expressed their disapproval of the idea, but there are also those who support the proposals – with Guardiola arguably the most prominent voice.
“You don’t have to criminalise ideas,” the Manchester City boss said.
“The World Cup is amazing. As a supporter I enjoy watching, and if it is every two years that would be good.”
Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager who is now Fifa’s chief of global football development, is a driving force behind the proposed change.
‘All about money’The proposal to abandon the long-standing four-year cycle includes plans to limit the number of mid-season international breaks and travel demands on players – which Wenger is “100% convinced” is the best way forward for the game as a whole.
“Today’s calendar is outdated,” he said. “The current four-year cycle was established in 1930, yet 133 countries have never been at the World Cup.”
Klopp says player welfare will remain an ongoing concern, even though the plan includes guaranteed rest periods for players once tournaments are over.
“There’s no other sport in the world with such a relentless calendar. We all know why it’s happening. Whatever people say that it’s about giving different countries opportunities, in the end it’s all about money,” Klopp said.
“That’s fine. But in the end, at one point somebody has to start understanding that without the players – the most important ingredients of this wonderful game – we cannot play it.”
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, shares Klopp’s concern over player burnout.
Vieira considers his old Arsenal boss Wenger a “visionary” but believes his compatriot’s idea threatens the prestige of the event.
“For me, I think that it will lose a little bit of its importance to have the World Cup every two years,” he said.
Patrick Vieira, a World Cup and European Championship winner with France, played under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal for nine yearsSpain’s La Liga chief Javier Tebas says the proposed calendar changes “would disrupt the domestic leagues to the extent that interest would be lost and continuity jeopardised” – a sentiment echoed by South American federation CONMEBOL.
Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European football’s governing body Uefa, told The Times that the plans would “kill football”external-link and said countries from his continent could boycott the tournament.
Manchester City boss Guardiola said he is “glad when new ideas are put on the table to discuss” and that clubs, leagues and governing bodies “defending their positions” is to be expected.
“When we talk about global football ideas it is ridiculous because everyone just looks after themselves,” he said.
What does the public think?Unlike Guardiola, 64% of Britons are opposed to having a World Cup every two years, according to a new YouGov poll.
Younger fans among the 1,000 supporters surveyed this week were most in favour of having the tournament staged more regularly, but even then only 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds supported it.
Overall, only one in five (21%) support the plan, and only 8% were strongly in favour, while 40% strongly opposed the plan, with a further 24% somewhat opposed.
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