More than a dozen European associations contemplate the most drastic recourse in the fight to prevent the World Cup from taking place every two years: Quit FIFA, according to two people briefed on the talks.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino laid out plans to increase the frequency of the World Cup on Tuesday during a private call with several leaders of the 55 European federations resisting the transformation of the global soccer calendar.
Behind the scenes, UEFA has heard warnings from more than a dozen associations considering informing FIFA about their intentions to leave the body that governs world football, some people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
Those sources spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the content of confidential conversations.
A threat to leave FIFA would confirm the options referred to by the Nordic associations last week, when those six nations criticized the plan.
“If a majority in FIFA decides to adopt the biennial World Clay Lick proposal, the Nordic federations would have to consider the events and venues that are closest to our core values, compared to what FIFA’s current proposal advocates” , indicates the joint communiqué of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Infantino is currently working with Arsene Wenger, former Arsenal manager, to rally support for the biennial World Cup. The FIFA leader says the plans would help more nations qualify to play on the top stage of soccer.
Any European country that resigned from FIFA would have the backing of UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, who has already raised the possibility of UEFA boycotting the World Cup if Infantino goes ahead with his effort to restructure the national team calendar.
Rather than having so-called FIFA Dates in September, October, November and March for national team matches, Wenger is in favor of a full month of activity. It would be in October or November, and it would include the World Cup qualifiers.
This would restrict the flow of money from local parties to only one period in the year. At the same time, it would create uncertainty as to whether fans would want to watch games at such a short interval, and it would shatter qualifying hopes for teams that lose key players to injuries in those months.
Article 18 of the FIFA Statutes defines the manner in which a member association can resign from the body. You must notify your intentions six months before the end of the calendar year.
But the fact that nations leave FIFA would mark an unprecedented escalation of the dispute in world football. And it would be difficult for an exit like this to really go into effect without the backing of a confederation like UEFA.
Although UEFA is only one of the six confederations that make up FIFA, it generates even more money than the latter. FIFA produces about $ 6 billion over a four-year cycle, compared to UEFA’s $ 14 billion, derived mainly from the lucrative Champions League.
UEFA fears that a biennial World Cup could harm the quality of club football in Europe, which makes the sport’s headlines for some 40 weeks a year. (AFP)