Football’s governing body, FIFA, has claimed that fans support its idea for a World Cup to be staged every two years from 2028.
The global body says it undertook the survey among fans as part of a feasibility study into increasing the frequency of the competition from the current four-year cycle.
FIFA surveyed 23,000 respondents in 23 countries across all six confederations and 15,000 people ‘were identified as expressing an interest in football and the…World Cup’.
Arsene Wenger has put forward plans to change the World Cup from every four years to two
In a statement, FIFA added: ‘Based on initial results, the following conclusions can be drawn:
‘The majority of fans would like to see a more frequent men’s FIFA World Cup; of this majority the preferred frequency is biennial. There are considerable differences between the so-called traditional markets and the developing football markets and younger generations in all regions are more open and interested in change than older generations.’
However, a biennial World Cup is a controversial proposal.
Earlier this month, 58 fan groups from all over the world expressed their opposition to the idea in a campaign coordinated by Football Supporters Europe.
In addition, the European Leagues, an umbrella body that includes the Premier League, has expressed its opposition to the plan.
Former Arsenal boss Wenger is currently trying to gather support for his new, radical plans
Arsene Wenger presented his plans for the reform of the international calendar to journalists
His plan includes reducing the number of international windows. The current situation – status quo – shows five windows in red. Wenger is putting forward two options, in the first there is just one window each season and in the second, there are two reducing player travel
In the second part of his proposal, Wenger suggests a World Cup every two years with the year in between being filled with an international competition within each confederation
And Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA, even suggested that his confederation and its South American counterpart could boycott a more frequent competition.
Even so, FIFA is determined to pursue the idea. It has highlighted the dominance of European and South American football within the global game and wants more countries, from less developed confederations, to have the opportunity to compete in a World Cup and host a tournament.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin (left) has already made clear his opposition
Furthermore, the vast majority of FIFA’s income stems from the World Cup so holding a competition more often will hugely boost its coffers, and potentially undermine UEFA’s income if its competitions are squeezed.
FIFA said the survey was undertaken by IRIS and YouGov online during July.
The exact results and questions have not been disclosed. FIFA said the results of an expanded survey involving over 100,000 people in more than 100 countries is under way and would be published in due course.
In May, FIFA approved a study into holding the World Cup every two years, instead of every four, following a request by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
Former Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s head of global football development, has developed the idea and has begun consulting former players and coaches.
The new plans would enable international players (like the England squad, above) to travel less
In his proposal, international qualification matches would be consolidated into one or two windows and there would be a tournament at the end of each season, with the World Cup taking place every two years.
Wenger insists there would be no more matches than in the current international calendar, players would be guaranteed 25 days rest before the start of a new season, there would be less disruption of domestic football and fans would have the opportunity watch higher quality international games.
As part of a determined campaign to promote the two-year World Cup, FIFA has begun a consultation with former players and coaches. It says it has spoken to 80 high-profile figures in the game, who are reportedly all supportive.
Last week a new Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on the future of men’s football, which features players and coaches from all six confederations met in Doha, Qatar.
Tim Cahill is one of the former players consulted by FIFA and he supports a biennial World Cup
Among them were former Everton and Australian international, Tim Cahill, Manchester United’s legendary goalkeeper and Norway international, Peter Schmeichel and the Brazilian Ronaldo.
They joined Wenger in extolling the virtues of a biennial World Cup and reformed fixture calendar.
Wenger told an online news conference: ‘I have been asked by 166 countries how it is possible to hold a World Cup every two years. Overall, I have had a very positive response and the decision will be made by the 211 countries who are members of FIFA.
‘Our mission is to plan and shape the football of tomorrow and to improve the competition of global football. The objectives were first less travel for players, no increase in the number of the games, guaranteed rest for players and more meaningful games, that’s what the fans demand, and more chances to shine, and to close the gap.
‘All the confederations have to have access to top, top games, not just Europe and South America.