'More or less a nonsense' – UEFA chief Ceferin relieved as FIFA cans biennial World Cup plan

By Sports Desk April 07, 2022

The Arsene Wenger-fronted plan for a World Cup every two years was "more or less a nonsense" and FIFA saw sense by finally ditching the idea, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino last week indicated the world governing body had dropped the project, which had drawn strong criticism from European and South American authorities in particular.

Infantino said FIFA had never proposed the change to the tournament that has taken place every four years since the first edition in 1930.

But Infantino had been seen by many as a cheerleader for the switch, making a widely criticised claim in January that opportunities delivered by a World Cup every two years could provide impetus for African migrants to avoid treacherous crossings to Europe, suggesting they could avoid "death in the sea".

Ceferin told a news conference on Thursday: "We are happy FIFA ordered that it is finally off the table, the biennial World Cup.

"Formally it was not proposed by FIFA, but it was encouraged by FIFA. It's good they've listened to the football community.

"For me, it's very good that this project that is more or less a nonsense is off the table."

Former Arsenal manager Wenger, as FIFA's chief of global development, had been the main advocate for the biennial World Cup, promoting the concept widely ahead of a possible vote and nailing his colours firmly to the mast.

Infantino claimed the alterations would yield significant financial returns if the plans were approved, with a boost of $4.4billion in the first four-year cycle of a new international calendar, which would climb to $6.6bn if each confederation also switched its regional competition to become biennial.

A vote now appears highly unlikely to happen in the near future, and Ceferin questioned whether there should be any other major tournaments added to the international calendar.

"About new tournaments, I don't think there's much time for new competitions, but let's speak about it and let's see," Ceferin said. "For now, we didn't discuss it."

Ceferin said UEFA would take a decision "very soon" on Russia's possible involvement in the Women's European Championship, which begins in July and will be staged in England.

Despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led the country to be widely ostracised, a final ruling has yet to be taken on whether the women's football team should be allowed to take part.

The men's team were swiftly thrown out of the World Cup by FIFA, denied a place in a play-off to reach the Qatar 2022 finals.

Ceferin said: "There is a court case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of the Russian Football Union. We expect some information from there as soon as possible, but we know we are in a hurry to decide about this issue. We know the Euro is very soon and that we'll have to take the decision soon, but we need some more information."

Asked whether Russian football authorities should be expelled by UEFA, Ceferin said there were "considerations about many things these days".

Russia has bid to host the Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 finals, in a move that has been met with widespread disbelief.

Ceferin will be aware of that sentiment and said of Russia's bid: "We are discussing it, and you will have the answer very soon."

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