GENEVA â Fifa has stepped up efforts to host the Men’s World Cup every two years, garnering support from football fans around the world to help fight resistance from Europe and South America.
The latest public relations tactic came in the form of an online poll commissioned by Fifa. The Associated Press does not consistently report allegations in Internet opinion polls.
Fifa claimed that the findings of more than 15,000 respondents aged 18 and over identified in 23 countries showed “considerable differences between so-called traditional markets and developing football markets” and younger fans more enthusiastic than the older ones.
A follow-up investigation involving 100,000 people in more than 100 countries is currently underway, FIFA said.
UEFA, the European football body, and its South American counterpart, Conmebol, oppose Fifa’s plan and have threatened to boycott other World Cups. Europe and South America combine for 65 of FIFA’s 211 members, less than a third of the total likely needed to block any proposal.
The governing bodies of the six continental football federations all organize their own championships, with Europe hosting its tournament every four years halfway between the World Cups. Adding an additional World Cup every four years would likely reduce the revenue for the European event.
Women already have two major world tournaments in each four-year cycle, as the top teams and top players compete at the Olympics as well as the Women’s World Cup.
Fifa’s latest investigation comes a week after welcoming around 80 former international players, including several World Cup winners, for a two-day meeting in Qatar, the host country of the 2022 World Cup.
The players said they all agreed it was a good idea to double the number of Men’s World Cups in each four-year period.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino believes hosting more tournaments would increase opportunities and excitement in most of the 211 member countries, many of which never qualify to play at the World Cup.
The expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from the 2026 tournament in North America was one of the most important first decisions of the Infantino presidency, which started in 2016. Fifa also wants distribute additional World Cup income to enhance talent development and assist national teams. globally close the gap with Europe.
The European teams have won the last four World Cups and filled 13 of the 16 places in the semi-finals. The other three 2006-18 semi-finalists were from South America.
The UEFA-backed Football Supporters Europe group also opposed the biennial World Cup plan, saying it would distort the balance between national and international football, and club and national teams.
Global players’ union FIFPRO has also warned of burnout in the increasingly crowded football schedule.
South Africa, meanwhile, has expressed interest in hosting the FIFA Club World Cup in December following Japan’s withdrawal due to Covid-19, the president of the United Nations said on Monday. South African Football Association, Danny Jordaan.
Jordaan told The Associated Press he will meet with FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura in Lagos, Nigeria this week to get more details on the type of candidacy South Africa is due to make to the organization. world to host the men’s seven-team tournament.
The Club World Cup will feature European champion Chelsea and the five other continental club competition winners. The league champion of the host country also gets a place.
Japan pulled out last week over fears the tournament could lead to an increase in infections in a country that has just hosted the Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
Fifa has yet to comment on the alternative host, with Saudi Arabia also keen to intervene.
An extended 24-team Club World Cup was due to debut this year in China, but it was put on hold as the pandemic necessitated the rescheduling of national team competitions in June and Fifa were unable to lift funds needed for the planned quadrennial event. The seven-team format has therefore been extended for one year.
The South African Football Association needs to get government approval to host the tournament and meetings with the sports minister are also scheduled, Jordaan said.
“We will know our position by the end of the week,” he said.
South Africa has many high-quality stadiums that were built or renovated for the 2010 World Cup, but any ambition to host the Club World Cup would depend on its own coronavirus situation.
South Africa saw an increase in the number of cases in the middle of the year and there has been a decrease in viral infections over the past two weeks. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced an easing of restrictions across the country. The government is also making plans to allow spectators to return to sports stadiums, most likely using vaccine passports, Ramaphosa said.
It would be a boost to plans for organizing the Club World Cup, as no supporters have been allowed to attend major sporting events in South Africa since the start of the pandemic. Fifa probably wouldn’t want their tournament to be played in empty stadiums.
Image courtesy of AP