Gareth Southgate points out the flaws in Arsene Wenger’s proposed shake-up of international calendar – with an injured player potentially missing a whole campaign if all qualifiers are crammed into just one month
- Arsene Wenger has drawn up proposals to reform the international calendar
- Ex Arsenal boss wants to see the World Cup held every two years, not four
- He has also suggested all qualifiers should be condensed into just one month
- England manager Gareth Southgate has expressed reservations about the plan
- He pointed out a player out injured could miss a whole year for their country
England manager Gareth Southgate has expressed reservations about Arsene Wenger’s proposed reforms of the international calendar, fearing an injured player could be frozen out of their national team for a whole year.
Wenger, the former Arsenal boss who is now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, wants to see a biennial World Cup but also mid-season internationals to be compartmentalised into just one or two windows rather than the current five.
Under one of the draft proposals from Wenger shown to FIFA’s member associations, the season would pause for a month in October for tournament qualifiers to be completed.
England manager Gareth Southgate has expressed reservations about Arsene Wenger’s proposed reforms of the international football calendar
Former Arsenal boss Wenger has proposed the World Cup be staged every two years and that all mid-season internationals such as qualifiers be played over a month in October
But Southgate, preparing his side for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Hungary at Wembley, pointed out a flaw in Wenger’s plan.
‘What if your player was injured in the October? He doesn’t play international football for a year,’ he said.
‘I saw some initial proposals, they seemed to be doing the rounds but I’m not quite sure what exactly is on the table now.
‘It seems to change every time I speak to [CEO] Mark Bellingham at the FA there has been another presentation and another set of proposals and it is hard to keep up with.
‘Everybody needs to be there at the discussion; club football and international football. There can be tweaks to the calendar that would help everybody.
‘If there are maybe slightly fewer windows but you get the players together for a slightly longer period of time, that might help the clubs and the international teams.
‘But if there is only one per year, I don’t really understand that as a concept from FIFA when international football is such an important part of what they do.
Qualifying games such as England’s meeting with Andorra could be condensed into just one or two months of the calendar
‘If you are a player and you miss that one month or however long it is proposed to be, what you don’t have an international career at all that year? It doesn’t really seem to make sense to me.’
Southgate added: ‘I gave some opinions to Arsene when he showed me some of his ideas.
‘I don’t know how far everything has progressed, there seem to be a lot of things that weren’t discussed in the original proposal I was shown so it is hard to keep track of it.
‘There were some good things, we all want games to be meaningful and we all want high level games – the Nations League semi finals and finals again showed the quality, and they are exactly the kind of games we want to be involved in, they help your team improve and the players to improve.
‘But all of that calendar needs to be joined up, not just adding to it.’
FIFA are looking at reforms that could see the World Cup played every two years, not four
166 FIFA member associations voted to approve a feasibility study when proposed by the Saudi Arabian federation earlier this year.
As a result, Wenger was tasked by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to draw up ideas on how the international calendar can be reformed.
Wenger proposed the World Cup is staged every two years with confederation tournaments such as the European Championship or Copa America shunted to odd-numbered years.
There will be either one [October only] or two [March and October] international windows each year, meaning a month-long break to the club season, for qualifiers to be played as opposed to the five breaks currently.
Europe’s governing body UEFA opposed the plans for more World Cups, highlighting a lack of prestige for the tournament and highlighting worries over player welfare.