Fifa are making changes to attract the next generation of supporters but all they’re doing is courting money and controversy, writes Laura Lawrence.
There have been numerous protestations from Fifa president Gianni Infantino this week.
“We’re not the enemy of football.”
No, we haven’t discussed a European nations boycott of the World Cup.
Yes, we are willing to abandon the idea of a biennial World Cup but not until we’ve finished the feasibility study that was requested by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation.
Still Fifa press on, pointing their middle-aged fingers at the real enemy: young people. They’re only making these changes to attract the next generation of supporters, you know. Next year there will be a feasibility study on multi-ball. I jest but it feels like we’re only a few Fifa conferences away from that vote.
Let’s look at a pertinent factor of nations hosting a World Cup every two years. Before the feasibility study even looks at the environmental costs of introducing two extra international tournaments and the impact on player’s welfare, as raised by FIFPRO the World Players’ Union, who is going to be able to afford to host these additional tournaments?
Which governments are going to bid? The process of bidding is expensive in itself. In a world that is still in the grips of a pandemic, the affordability of, let’s face it, frivolous sporting activities is going to be down to those countries with leaders looking to distract from their domestic issues or, as discussed last week, those looking to present a friendlier face on the international stage.
The cost of the recent World Cups are estimated to be:
· Russia (2018) – $11.6billion (£8bn)
· Brazil (2014) – $15bn (£11bn)
· South Africa (2010) – $3.6bn (£2.6bn)
Qatar’s estimated costs are $220bn (£159bn). This is the legacy of Sepp Blatter and his aim to host in countries that have little to no football infrastructure. With Infantino mooting a 2030 bid from Israel, co-hosting with other Arab nations including Palestine, the bidding process seems less about attracting kids and more about courting money and controversy.
The pressure just to participate in World Cups is evident in China where the Super League has been suspended from August to December to give the international side the best chance of qualifying for 2022. This is having a detrimental effect on the Super League clubs, plunging them into insurmountable debts.
To mitigate the environmental and welfare issues Infantino has also proposed the idea that if one team competes in the first tournament, they would not compete in the second. So, a bit like you and your siblings taking it in turns to have Christmas with your parents and the in-laws.
If only there were a solution where you could celebrate together, say, every four years..
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