England boss Gareth Southgate has questioned FIFA’s new World Cup proposals, as he insisted that the plan to shake-up the international calendar ‘doesn’t make sense’.
The world governing body’s idea – which is spearheaded by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger – is to rip up the current international schedule by introducing a biennial World Cup, with alterations also set to be made to the qualifying format.
Wenger’s proposal is centred around trying to maximise the number of ‘meaningful matches’ at international level, hence the desire to increase the frequency of the World Cup.
His plan would see the number of international breaks reduced to just one or two a season – likely October and March – with these set to be longer to allow almost entire qualifying campaigns to be completed in one month and so that more breaks in the season can be introduced, in order to attempt to lessen the workload for players.
Unsurprisingly, this revolutionary proposal has been met with outcry from the footballing community, with many questioning the sense in having a major international tournament every summer – with the European Championship’s likely to be forced to be staged every two years also – as well as the impact that reduced international breaks will have on national teams.
England boss Southgate had previously suggested he was neither for nor against the plot when first commenting a month ago, albeit while admitting that ‘it needed a lot more thought’.
Having been asked again on the issue this week, the 51-year-old revealed the changing nature of the proposals are ‘hard to keep up with’, while he also insisted that limiting international breaks to just one or two a year ‘doesn’t make sense’.
“What if your player was injured in October?” he said at a press conference on Monday. “He doesn’t play international football for a year, so, I’m not quite sure where everything is, I saw some initial proposals, they seem to be doing the rounds, and I’m not quite sure exactly what’s on the table now.
“It seems to change every time I speak to Mark Bullingham and the FA, there’s been another presentation and another set of proposals, it’s hard to keep up with really, all I would say is everybody needs to be there, in the discussion, club football, international football, I think I’ve said before there can be tweaks to the calendar that would help everybody.
“If there were maybe slightly fewer windows but you get players together for a longer period of time, that might help the clubs and the international teams, but if there’s only one per year, I don’t really understand that as a concept from Fifa when international football is so important a part of what you do.
“As I said at the start, if you’re a player and you miss that one month or however long a break’s supposed to be, you don’t have an international career at all that year, that doesn’t seem to make sense to me.”
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