FIFA is exploring the possibility of staging the World Cup every two years, rather than every four, the president of South American soccer’s governing body confirmed on Friday, New York Times reports.
Alejandro Dominguez, the president of the South American body, CONMEBOL, submitted the proposal at a FIFA congress in Kigali, Rwanda, in October. Dominguez said Friday that a biennial World Cup would serve as a viable — and even preferable — alternative to the expanded continental championships like UEFA’s Nations League and the Copa América.
Aleksander Ceferin, Dominguez’s counterpart at UEFA, has made clear his desire to incorporate South American teams into Europe’s new Nations League championship at some point. Though Dominguez, a Paraguayan, insisted he was not opposed to that idea, he said that he had encouraged FIFA to examine the benefits of changing the World Cup’s cycle instead.
Any proposed changes to the World Cup, FIFA’s marquee event, are sure to face opposition. A recent expansion of the quadrennial tournament from its current 32 teams to 48 for the 2026 event provoked fierce opposition before it was approved unanimously in 2017. Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s former president, floated the idea of a World Cup every two years as early as 1999, but the concept failed to garner support.
But since assuming his post in 2016, FIFA’s current president, Gianni Infantino, has been supportive of both new events and major changes to soccer’s international calendar, including the World Cup expansion, a so-called mini World Cup of eight teams in off cycles and a multibillion-dollar proposal for an expanded club world championship. Each would produce vital new revenue for FIFA.
Sponsors are far more likely to invest in sports organizations that hold major events every two years rather than every four, something the International Olympic Committee has experienced. In the 1990s it started alternating the Summer and Winter Games every two years.
The increased revenue would allow Infantino to follow through on campaign pledges to return more of FIFA’s billions to its member associations, and it also could serve to fend off power plays by rivals to Infantino, especially in Europe, as he prepares to run for re-election next year.