The FIFA World Cup, European Cup, and the Olympics are some of the few major sporting events that occur once every 4 years. These events are watched globally and generate millions upon millions of views, indicative of the scale and stature they represent when they take place. One significant contributing factor to the celebration and clamour to these events is undoubtedly the fact that it does not take place in quick succession. You look forward to the World Cup because it takes 4 years to start. This act builds suspense, anticipation, and excitement, eventually leading to an outburst of emotions when the day arrives. This lends the World Cup and company a sense of exclusivity and grandiose; these are the rare special events to keep your eye on in an age where sporting events are broadcasted on a regular basis.
Will you feel the same way if that waiting time is reduced by half? One may argue not. If a World Cup were to take place biennially, it siphons the excitement by half as you barely need to wait for it to come around. Furthermore, it takes away an important aspect that makes the World Cup special; the exclusivity. A biennial World Cup would never match the levels of a good ol’ World Cup that keeps you longing for it, it simply wouldn’t.
The proposal to shorten the World Cup waiting time from 4 years to 2 is spearheaded by Arsene Wenger, former Arsenal FC Manager currently occupying the position of FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development (bet you didn’t know that). Wenger proposed two methods for the World Cup to take place in this manner. However, he was met with the swift opposition of the European Leagues. Edwin van der Sar, former Red Devil and currently the CEO for Ajax Amsterdam was particularly staunch in his stance against it. Nonetheless, there have been individuals not completely opposed to it. UEFA Chairman Ceferin also had strong words regarding the proposal. Man City’s Pep Guardiola was more open to the idea and claimed that it didn’t need to be shut down as vehemently as it did. Pep further insisted that dialogue should take place to discuss the pros and cons of the idea, with the Spaniard finding some joy in the evolution of the sport.
Be that as it may, as mouthwatering as a biennial World Cup is on paper, the logistics would beg to differ. As it stands, football as a sport faces increasing congestion in schedule in a single calendar year. With season-long matches across multiple tournaments lasting almost an entire year, players rarely have time off outside the pitch to recalibrate themselves and take a break. The one plus to having the World Cup and European Cup 4 years apart from the build-up is also the fact that players can rest in the off years. As audiences, we rarely think of the players’ well-being. Although they are professional athletes who take care of their bodies extremely well, running them to the ground by reducing their off-time even more can only pose negative effects on their long-term well-being. This notion can no longer be seen as a mere possibility as we see many players returning from international duties (friendlies and qualifiers) suffer cramps and pains throughout the season when playing for their clubs. Scheduling congestion is already a problem for footballers prior to this proposal, and the proposal itself doesn’t exactly help remedy this growing issue.
With the 2022 World Cup set to take place in Qatar, the next one would be in 2024 if Wenger’s proposal sees the light of day and gets enough yesses. That would put the World Cup after in the same year as the 2024 European Cup. Although that seems like only good news for fans, the fact remains that it would take your eyes off the European Cup because as big of an event it is, it would not compare to the biggest footballing tournament around. And as all eyes are set on that World Cup, you won’t find yourselves as entertained because you have just seen one only 2 years ago. At the end of the day, there maybe is such a thing as too much (international) football and perhaps a little bit of moderation is to be exercised before proceeding with this endeavour.
Hartwick is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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