KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The South American football confederation has undertaken a U-turn over FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s pursuit of a World Cup every two years.
Three years ago it was CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez who pushed the first button for what has become a high-profile promotional campaign to revolutionise not merely the football calendar but the entire international sports schedule.
The African confederation and some sections of Asia have already come on board with the idea of a multiplied World Cup which would propel the traditional four-yearly staging out of the sporting window.
FIFA development director Arsene Wenger this week promoted his idea of a restricting national team qualifying matches to a club-free October with the various world and regional finals tournaments in the usual June/July slot.
However killing off the monthly international windows would kill off the schedule of lucrative European-based friendly matches enjoyed by South America’s major nations such as Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
This belated realisation is understood to be begin CONMEBOL’s volte-face.
A statement explained:
A World Cup every two years could distort the most important football competition on the planet, lowering its quality and undermining its exclusive character and its current demanding standards.
The World Cup is an event that attracts the attention and expectations of billions of people because it represents the culmination of a process of elimination that lasts the entire four-year period and has its own dynamics and appeal.
A World Cup every two years would represent an overload that is practically impossible to manage in the international competition calendar.
In the current conditions, it is already complex to harmonize times, schedules, logistics, adequate preparation of equipment and commitments.
The situation would be extremely difficult with the proposed change. It could even put the quality of other tournaments, both club and national, at risk.
CONMEBOL’s attack follows within days of Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA, raising the prospect of a European boycott of a multiplied World Cup.
The statement added:
The idea of the World Cup is to bring together the most talented footballers, the most outstanding coaches and the most trained referees to determine in a fair and fair competition which is the best team on the planet.
This cannot be achieved without proper preparation, without teams developing their skills and technicians designing and implementing strategies.
All of this translates into time, training sessions, planning, games. CONMEBOL defends the search for excellence in the field of play and is committed to increasingly competitive events of the highest quality.
There is no sporting justification for shortening the period between World Cups.