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FIFA to consult football leaders on international match calendar

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino on the occasion of a new partnership with the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to jointly tackle corruption and crime in football in September last year. AFP

FIFA to consult football leaders on international match calendar

FIFA has invited football’s national federations to an online summit on September 30 to discuss the international calendar, in its push to hold the World Cup every two years instead of four.

World football’s governing body wants to launch a “new consultation phase” for the international women’s and men’s calendar, set to expire at the end of 2023 and 2024 respectively.

“There is a broad consensus within the game that the international match calendar should be reformed and improved,” FIFA said in a statement Monday.

“Following invitations to stakeholders, including all confederations, at the beginning of September, discussions are being organised in the coming weeks.

“FIFA also invited its member associations to a first online summit on 30 September 2021. This is one of several opportunities to establish a constructive and open debate, at a global and regional level, over the coming months.”

The controversial proposal for a biennial World Cup was revived in March by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now head of global football development at FIFA.

The idea would be to have an international tournament each year from 2025-2026, alternating World Cups and continental tournaments like the European Championship and Copa America.

UEFA president AleksanderCeferin is fiercely opposed to the proposal and threatened that European nations would boycott a biennial World Cup.

South American confederation CONMEBOL said the project had “no sporting justification”.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has promised decisions on staging a World Cup every two years would be made by the end of the year.

Last week FIFA published an online poll that claimed a majority of football fans support the idea of a “more frequent” World Cup.

The results of the survey came in stark contrast to the opposition of numerous national supporters groups worldwide.

Global players’ union FIFPro has denounced “the absence of a real dialogue” on the subject, pointing out the “natural physiological limits” of footballers.

“Without the agreement of the players, who bring all competitions to life on the pitch, no such reforms will have the required legitimacy,” said FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.

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