Home SPORTS GIST Football OLYMPIC BODY ISSUES CONCERN OVER FIFA’S BIENNIAL WORLD CUP PLANS

OLYMPIC BODY ISSUES CONCERN OVER FIFA’S BIENNIAL WORLD CUP PLANS

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Farouq Oduola A.

The International Olympic Committee has expressed “concerns” about FIFA’s quest for two-yearly soccer World Cups.

Despite IOC President Thomas Bach’s declaration that “we would not interfere in this issue” last month, his organization stepped in following a meeting in Athens to discuss concerns raised with soccer stakeholders.

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Conflicts with other sports, the men’s World Cup overshadowing the women’s tournaments, and “another huge pressure” on athlete welfare were all highlighted in an IOC statement released following an executive board meeting.

The IOC did criticise FIFA’s approach in pushing the biennial World Cup idea, stating that “clearly no wider consultation” took place across soccer.

Following a meeting with retired players last month, FIFA unveiled its detailed proposal to restructure the international soccer calendar, with biennial World Cups for men and women at the centre.

Before formally consulting member federations in the World Cup strongholds of Europe and South America, FIFA president Gianni Infantino unveiled the plan, which has his support. UEFA and CONMEBOL, the governing bodies of those regions, have threatened to boycott the World Cup if FIFA goes forward with a proposal that would jeopardise their continental championships, which are held on the same four-year schedule as the IOC’s Summer Games. All of them are due in 2024.

Tennis, cycling, golf, gymnastics, swimming, athletics, Formula One, and many more sports would be affected by future World Cups, according to the IOC.

The Olympic body stated, “This would jeopardise the diversity and growth of sports other than football.”

FIFA has not specified if it wants a biennial men’s World Cup to be held on even-numbered years. The next planned World Cups are in 2022 and 2026. It’s possible that a move to odd-numbered years, beginning in 2029, may be proposed.

At an Olympic briefing after an executive board meeting, spokesperson Mark Adams was asked whether Infantino, who is an IOC member, had talked with Bach about the biennial World Cup plan before going public with it.

Adams said he could not give details though the IOC kept in touch with sports governing bodies.

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