By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
UEFA has doubled down on its opposition to FIFA’s plans for biennial World Cups, saying it will stand against them until “common sense prevails and they are dropped”.
FIFA wants to shorten the gap between its flagship men’s and women’s tournaments to two years as part of an overhaul of the international calendar from 2024, and is currently consulting with national associations, confederations, fans, clubs, players and leagues.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has previously said European countries could boycott the World Cup if the changes were introduced, and on Friday the confederation gave no indication of a softening of its stance.
“A biennial Word Cup would damage all forms of football, devalue the competition itself, disadvantage fans financially and stunt the development of women’s and youth football around the world,” a UEFA statement said.
“There are so many reasons that clubs, leagues and fans are united in their opposition to it.
“UEFA has a responsibility to the game in Europe to make sure that this unnecessary additional burden on a few elite players does not go ahead to the detriment not only of their physical and mental health but also to the broader game.
“From the idea of a single international window to the complete ignorance of the inevitable effects on women’s and youth competitions, this concept has all the hallmarks of a decision that FIFA wants to take in haste and leave the rest of the game to bitterly repent at leisure. Any perceived attraction is shallow, while the pitfalls are cavernous.
“UEFA will continue to oppose it until common sense prevails and the plans are dropped.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he would like his organisation’s member associations to vote on the plans before the end of the year.
Earlier on Friday, it was announced that UK MPs would examine government support for a feasibility study on a UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
The cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee will question funding body UK Sport on Tuesday about the £2.8million ( €3.3 million) it allocated to the study, and whether it represents good value for the taxpayer.
The committee will also look at how hosting major cultural and sporting events can help the UK maximise ‘soft power’, and also the cost to the BBC of securing the rights to such events.
The witnesses called include UK Sport chief operating officer Simon Morton and the director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater.
British prime minister Boris Johnson pledged the £2.8m towards the feasibility study earlier this year and said at the time: “We are very keen to bring football home in 2030. I do think it’s the right place.
“It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”
FIFA is expected to outline the bidding regulations for the 2030 World Cup in the second quarter of next year.
UK Sport said in May it had earmarked 97 events across 44 sports, including 46 world championships, that the country had an interest in hosting between now and 2031.
As well as the men’s football World Cup in 2030, the UK Sport plan also included the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup and the 2031 Ryder Cup in golf.