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‘It’s to make football better’: Wenger insists on biennial World Cup proposal

ARSENE Wenger says he is “ready to take that gamble” over his proposals to overhaul football’s match calendar “to make the game better”.

The former Arsenal boss has suggested fewer international breaks and staging the World Cup every two years.

In an exclusive interview with BBC podcast The Sports Desk, Wenger said: “The risk is to make football better, and I’m ready to take that gamble.”

He added the current schedule offered “no clarity, no simplicity, no modern way to organise a season”.

Wenger, head of global development for world governing body FIFA, said: “I think if we go on like that we hit the wall.”
He said he would tackle “chaos” and “congestion” in the game.

“What is absolutely detrimental to the players is repeated travelling and jet-lag. With reducing the qualifying period, I believe that the clubs will benefit, the players would benefit.”

According to a survey commissioned by FIFA, a majority of fans favoured holding a men’s World Cup more frequently than every four years – although the most popular response across all age groups was to maintain the status quo.

When asked whether he risked devaluing football’s showpiece tournament by doubling its frequency, Wenger said: “The World Cup is such a huge event that I don’t think it will diminish the prestige. You want to be the best in the world and you want to be the best in the world every year.

“I’m not on an ego trip. I’ve been asked to help to shape the calendar of tomorrow, I consult the whole world.”

On Wednesday European football’s governing body UEFA said the plans created four significant “dangers” for football, including a potential loss in prestige for the World Cup and concerns over player welfare.

It rejected Wenger’s suggestion the new schedule would improve the competitive chances of smaller nations, and said the development of women’s football, with tournaments “deprived of exclusive slots and overshadowed by the proximity of top men’s events”, would be impacted.
It also accused FIFA of a lack of consultation.

“I’m confident, but I do not know the forces who are for or against. I just make that proposal because I think it’s good for the game,” insisted Wenger.

“I was a long time manager at Arsenal and I felt always that the separation between international competition and club competition was not good enough.

“After the proposal for the World Cup every two years sometimes [there is an] emotional response.
“I’m not surprised. Many people who were completely against it changed their mind after having seen my proposal.

“Some people have judged only based on every two years of World Cup and it was more emotional because ‘we’ve all grown up in that cycle’, and I can understand that.

“But many responses who were negative came out because they had not completely seen the whole concept. This concept of course, every two years a World Cup makes only sense if you see the whole proposal and if you regroup the qualifiers.”

BBC Sport

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