KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The Asian confederation has sidestepped – for now – the controversial issue of whether FIFA should stage the World Cup every two years instead of the traditional four-yearly cycle.

The world football federation is undertaking a feasibility study of an idea promoted by the Saudi federation at this year’s annual congress.

Development director Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager, is promoting the rescheduling of the World Cup as a cornerstone for a new international calendar. Last week he was supported, at a two-day conference in Qatar, by a phalanx of veteran star players.

However, opposition to the move is on the increase. European federation UEFA has threatened a boycott and South America’s CONMEBOL – after initial enthusiasm – has joined the opposition.

Clearly a championship without players from Europe and South America would not be a World Cup.

The African confederation has enthusiastically embraced the idea but CONCACAF, representing central and north America, is sitting on the fence.

Now the Asian confederation has ignored the specific proposal altogether in a statement on the future of the international game – despite four small federations prematurely stating support a fortnight ago.

An AFC statement welcomed “the extensive consultation process” and “the natural synergies of organising more meaningful matches”. But nothing more decisive.

AFC statement:

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) welcomes the extensive consultation process initiated and led by FIFA in examining the options to optimise the new International Match Calendar by looking into the feasibility of a FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup every two years instead of the current four-year interval, as mandated by the Member Associations, which include the AFC’s Members at the 71st FIFA Congress on 21 May 2021.

The AFC, as outlined in its Vision and Mission, has emphasised its clear ambitions to ensure Asia’s teams and players continue to shine on the world’s biggest stages through world-class competitions and in delivering tailor-made programmes to further enhance the development of its Member Associations.

At the same time, the AFC remains committed towards strengthening its engagement with the largest stadium in world football – Asia’s passionate fans – so many of whom continue to engage in record numbers, as it seeks to ensure football remains the Continent’s most popular sport.

The AFC recognises the natural synergies of organising more meaningful matches, as outlined in ‘the football for tomorrow’ vision but, above all, applauds the spirit of partnership and strong principles of inclusivity, which FIFA’s consultative approach seeks to achieve.

As proven time and time again, most notably in these challenging times, exceptional partnerships that thrive form the foundational basis for Asian and world football not only to overcome great adversity, but also in serving as the catalyst towards creating an environment that supports dynamic innovation, invention, and collective success.

The AFC takes great pride in the strength of its Member and Regional Associations and our ambitions have always been to build on and protect the same unity and solidarity alongside the world football community in fostering a better and brighter future for the global game.

The AFC remains firmly committed towards working with all its stakeholders and we look forward to engaging actively in shaping the future of the International Match Calendar, one which reflects the diverse needs and unlocks the potential benefits for every region across the globe.