England women’s head coach Sarina Wiegman has warned player welfare will be at risk if FIFA makes World Cups biennial events, as they are not “robots”.
The sport’s global governing body has announced an online summit will take place on September 30 to discuss the international football calendar, which is set for the women’s game until 2023 and the men in 2024.
FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger, has put forward a proposal for the World Cup to be held every two years, instead of four. But that idea has been strongly criticised by European clubs and organisations.
Women’s World Cup Qualification UEFA
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A survey by FIFA recently claimed that while a slight majority of fans are keen for the tournament to be played more often overall, a closer look at the data showed that when asked which gap they preferred, maintaining the status quo of four years was the most popular option.
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CONMEBOL, the South American governing body, is also against the idea, but it is perhaps understandably receiving backing from smaller nations, particularly those which have yet to experience the event.
“I wouldn’t do it,” England’s new women’s boss Wiegman said on Monday.
“I think it’s not very good for the players, for their welfare. In Europe it’s very well organised, we have very good competitions, we have the Euros, then you have the Olympics, then you have the World Cup, which are major tournaments for us.
I think when you have all these tournaments every year where are the players going to get some rest? Where are they going to recover from a very intense football year every year? Players are not robots so I don’t think it’s a very good idea.
“I think the FA is in contact and yes I hope that all the stakeholders will be asked and that they will take some advice from them and I think coaches with international experience are also stakeholders and we should be part of that discussion too, and we know the players also. Players are stakeholders too.”
Adding further weight to the case against it is the Alliance of European Football Coaches’ Associations, an organisation which represents 200,000 coaches across the continent.
On Monday, it released a statement to say: “The FIFA proposal leads to a considerable increase in the workload for all parties involved, but the already tight timetable does not offer any space for this. This proposal to hold the World Cup every two years has a purely commercial background.”
FIFA insists it is “committed to being a forum for meaningful debate by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders including fans and looks forward to discussions on the sustainable growth of football in all regions of the world, at all levels”.
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