Gareth Southgate has discussed proposed plans from FIFA to change the World Cup cycle and stage the tournament every two years.
FIFA is currently considering the prospect of hosting the prestigious tournament every two summers, with continental competitions such as the European Championship and Copa America staged in the alternative years – raising the realistic prospect of a major tournament in each summer.
The study – which is being led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger – would mean more major tournaments, though it is hoped the concept would lead to less international breaks and disruption to the club football season.
Southgate has now discussed the proposals and whilst insisting he is undecided on the matter, says any major changes could ‘lose some of the allure’ of football’s most prestigious tournament.
“I’m not massively pro or negative to the concept, but I think it needs a lot more thought,” he said. “As a traditionalist it feels you could lose some of the allure of the World Cup because the scarcity of it makes it more important. But I also get it that, if you are a player who has an injury for the World Cup, you might get only one opportunity every eight years, and that is really tough.
“Things like The Hundred in cricket have been an incredible success, so I’m open minded but we can’t keep adding on to the workload of the players.
“I met Arsene a couple of weeks ago, so I have a pretty good idea of the proposals. There are many different strands so there are bits I thought could work, bits I think need more consideration and bits that probably wouldn’t work.
“The whole calendar generally needs to be tidied up. Fewer matches, better quality, but there are lots of other things that need consideration and we can’t just add more in at the moment.”
The plans have been met by opposition however, with UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin echoing Southgate’s sentiment that the prestige of the World Cup comes as a result of its rarity.
Ceferin also spoke on the added workload on players as a result of changes to the international football calendar, despite backing UEFA’s own plans to expand the Champions League.
“You have probably heard that Fifa is conducting a feasibility study about the World Cup every two year,” he said at a meeting of ECA in Geneva.
“Well, we think that the jewel of the World Cup has value precisely because of its rarity. Holding it every two years will lead to less legitimacy, and it will unfortunately dilute the World Cup itself.
“Our players don’t need to see more of their summers spent at tournaments rather than devoted to relaxation and recuperation.”