Premier League clubs have opposed FIFA’s plans to reorganise the match calendar from 2024, which would include the biennial World Cup.
FIFA is conducting a feasibility study into holding the men’s and women’s World Cups every two years from 2028 as a strategy to reorganise the football calendar.
The plan is been championed by former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s chief of global football development, who believes the new football calendar will reduce the strain on players and lead to more meaningful top-level matches.
Under the proposals, all international qualifiers would also be played in one block during October.
But the proposal have come under serious criticism as all the clubs in the Premier League believe the plans would negatively impact the fan experience, pre-season preparations and reduce the quality of the competitions.
Following a stakeholder meeting with the clubs, the Premier League said: “All 20 Premier League clubs have discussed the post-2024 International Match Calendar reform process and are unanimously opposed to FIFA’s proposal for biennial men’s World Cups, along with any plans involving significantly extended international windows.
“Clubs raised concerns about the negative impacts FIFA’s current proposals would have on player welfare, the fan experience, pre-season preparations and the quality of competitions.”
European governing body UEFA and all other top European leagues are also opposed to the plans, which is subject to a vote from the 211 countries recognised by FIFA.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the English top-flight was “open to reform and new ideas” but only ones which would improve the game.
“The Premier League is committed to preventing any radical changes to the post-2024 FIFA International Match Calendar that would adversely affect player welfare and threaten the competitiveness, calendar, structures and traditions of domestic football.
“We are open to reforms and new ideas, but they must enhance the complementary balance between domestic and international football to improve the game at all levels. This process should also involve meaningful agreements with the leagues that provide the foundations for the game. We will continue to work with supporter groups, players, domestic and international stakeholders to find solutions that are in the best interests of football’s long-term future.”
In a swift defence to the proposal, Arsene Wenger has urged fans not to be scared of change as he continues to make the case for a biennial World Cup.
Moving FIFA’s showpiece tournament from a four-year cycle to being held every two years is one of the former Arsenal manager’s push as the organisation’s chief of global football development.
It is the idea of doubling the number of World Cups that has attracted huge criticism from leading figures in European and South American football – something he claims is down to a generational gap.
Wenger told Rio Ferdinand’s FIVE YouTube channel: “What I’m quite surprised in a society which is anti-discriminatory if you ask someone in the street whether a women’s World Cup every two years is good, they say, ‘Yes, fantastic, it will develop the women’s game’.
“Why is it bad for men then? That shows that the reluctance is emotional. We have all grown up in that cycle of [a World Cup] every four years and we want to keep it as it is.
“We see the split in our polls: the younger generations are in favour, the generations over 50 are against.
“We don’t have to be scared. The modern guy who watches football is knowledgeable, he’s demanding, he tests the quality of what he watches.
“There is a demand for quality; people today are knowledgeable and informed. We have the responsibility to give them top quality.”
YouGov research commissioned by FIFA and conducted in July found the most popular choice in each age group surveyed was to retain the status quo of World Cups every four years.
A summit is due to take place on December 20 featuring 211 member associations of FIFA, each of which will hold an equal vote if put to a ballot with smaller nations expected to be in favour.