• FIFA president Gianni Infantino (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Saudi Arabia's preposterous proposal for FIFA to stage the World Cup every two years is yet another clear demonstration of the game's penchant for self-destruction.
By
Philip Micallef

Source:
SBS The World Game
19 May 2021 - 3:01 PM  UPDATED 19 May 2021 - 3:01 PM

As if a 48-team competition from 2026 is not enough to dilute its exclusivity.

The Saudis' proposal of a feasibility study is on the agenda for discussion at the 71st FIFA Congress which will be held online at the weekend.

The concept of a biennial World Cup is not new and it is expected that most reasonable followers - not to mention the member federations - will treat it as another wild idea that should not see the light of day.

This time, however, it is more serious and could end up as being more than a mere proposal because FIFA president Gianni Infantino has close connections with the Saudi rulers, among them Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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So who is to say the Swiss-Italian won't be swayed by the prospect of winning more member federation friends and have the game's biggest event become a biennial one?

More teams playing each other in a major tournament more often means more matches which of course means more money.

FIFA reportedly made an equivalent of $7.7 billion from Russia 2018 which had 32 teams.

The World Cup's major appeal is the fact that it is not held often enough to be too commonplace.

Imagine having a World Cup in 2022 and another one two years later in 2024?

And what about the effects such a frequent World Cup would have on international tournaments like the European Championship, Copa America and Asian Cup?

And how on earth would federations juggle the demands of a qualifying process for two major events in the space of two years?

And how in the world can we keep squeezing the hell out of footballers by asking them to effectively play non-stop at a certain level until they drop?

Okay, today's players are handsomely remunerated and the best of them are paid outrageous salaries.

However, you can pay anyone as much as you like but you cannot expect him or her to produce anything more than what is humanly possible.

The Saudis also want a women's World Cup every two years and, to be fair, this idea does not seem as ridiculous as the one regarding the men's event.

Hopefully, the men's concept is treated in the same dismissive manner as was the European Super League plan and is given its marching orders.

Somehow, though, FIFA being FIFA and with Infantino at the centre of it all, we should not feel overly confident.