Study claims UEFA will lose billions if FIFA introduces biennial World Cups

The proposals, which are led by Arsene Wenger, would reshape the international football calendar.
Study claims UEFA will lose billions if FIFA introduces biennial World Cups

By PA Sport Staff

European football’s governing body UEFA has been warned it should expect to lose around €3 billion if the World Cup was held every two years, the PA news agency understands.

Proposals led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s chief of global football development, would reshape the international football calendar.

FIFA’s plans include a men’s tournament every June, mandatory 25-day rest periods for players after their involvement in tournaments, and cutting the number of qualifying matches and the number of international breaks during a season.

Closing the gap between World Cups from four years to two, however, has met with widespread opposition, including from the International Olympic Committee.

UEFA has said it would stand against them “until common sense prevails, and they are dropped”.

A report by French media outlet Le Monde, the details of which PA understands are correct, revealed UEFA commissioned an independent study in September to quantify the consequences of the changes proposed by FIFA.

The conclusions of the study, conducted by London-based Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates, were presented to the 55 national associations by video conference on Tuesday.

It was highlighted some €3 billion of losses over four years would be suffered should FIFA’s new calendar be introduced.

The change in schedule would see the confederation tournaments — such as the European Championships and Copa America — also take place every two years, with qualifying matches condensed into either one window or two, thereby cutting the number of international breaks and related travel.

UEFA’s study, it is understood, shows this is where the risk to revenues would impact most €2.5 billion losses if there were two international windows in October and March, with €3 billion if a single window is adopted over a four-year cycle.

The deficit would be mainly related to income from match tickets, broadcasting revenue and sponsorship, with some deals already contracted under the current structure.

The independent study also examined the impact of both mental fatigue for players and a lack of competition for some of the nations, who if they fail to qualify for the final stages, could be without an international fixture for as long as six months.

It also suggested women’s football would lose standing, as the showpiece events would conflict against men’s tournaments as well as the Olympic Games, while the study concluded there would be a “domino effect” on domestic competitions across UEFA.

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