This week FIFA revealed plans to make the global showpiece, the world cup , a two year tournament. This changes the format from a quadrennial one. Now the governing body of soccer , FIFA , have recently unveiled former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger(an Economist by training) as the Head of Global Football development in a move aimed at changing aspects of the Sport which are deemed archaic and outdated in the changing world of brand marketing and social media. Arsene is now at the forefront in advocating for the change of the soccer calendar. Today I want to talk about whether this is a good move for every stakeholder of soccer, that is fans, sponsors, stadium managers, clubs and most of all PLAYERS.
The four year World Cup has its roots formed from the Olympic games which run every leap year. In order not to clash with it, FIFA holds the tournament every two years after. I think the current set up works well for two reasons. Reason number one, it adds that little bit of importance, call it umph, to holding the World title. If I know that I can go for the trophy again in two years time it reduces the importance of getting it right the first time. Arsene Wenger should know this as an Economist, it is called inflation. If something is available and can be found cheaply it reduces in value. This is what has happened to the Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America over time. Going to these tournaments isn’t as huge a big deal as it once were because they are held every two years so for a coach missing out may not be the end of the world. The Copa in particular does not have a qualification sequence. Reason two , soccer’s calendar is very congested right now that a player who plies his trade say in Europe only gets about 2 weeks of vacation. The situation has been made very worse by the pandemic which meant FAs across the globe have to squeeze a lot of tournaments in such a small space of time. Players aren’t machines they need a break too and they have family. Burnout is not a word coaches and administrators like to hear but it is THERE . That is when those pesky little injuries start popping up and you wonder where they are coming from.
The sponsors will be jumping out of their seats in joy at the news of a two year world cup. No doubt television has become a huge part of soccer in the last 30 years or so and with TV comes money. A two year cycle means more eyes glued to the screen meaning advertising revenue is bound to also increase. As long as that money filters into the poorer members of FIFA i have no problem with it but from what we have seen from the past I wouldn’t hold my breath. On another plus side the player transfer fees will sky rocket. We have seen players who perform well at the world cup demand astronomical transfer fees for example James Rodriguez whose transfer fee went UP ALMOST TREBLE after his match winning exploits at Brazil 2014. Lastly, a case for the two year world cup is that more countries get to bid to host the tournament that haven’t had the opportunity to do so. This is good for tourism in the countries that get to host it and it could also mean new stadiums. But be careful, Brazil , South Africa and Russia are weeping because they have created white elephants(unoccupied stadia) that they don’t have any use for.