Maradona’s Hand of God. Pirlo’s Panenka Penalty in the Final. Iniesta stepping up to get the first World Cup for Spain and Gotze’s winner to break Argentine hearts. Who wouldn’t want moments like this regularised?
The World Cup is Football’s most prestigious competition, occurring once every four years, and features the World’s Finest Nations going head-to-head against each other.
The first iteration of this soon-to-be global competition was held in 1930 in the host nation of Uruguay who eventually ended up being the winners in a tournament consisting of 13 countries.
If we jump ahead to present-day football, this competition has evolved into a multi-million dollar tournament where the World’s greatest stars compete under one roof.
The 2026 edition of this tournament is said to have 48 countries performing instead of the usual 32 and many changes and amendments to the first iteration, the most recent being the change in the total no. of participating countries.
Along with this change, there has been much debate and speculation on a difference in the frequency of this competition in recent years, from a 4-year competition to a biennial one.
The idea has been in the works for a while now, ever since being pitched by former FIFA President Sepp Blatter in 1999 and 2001 and at the time had said, “We are living in fast and rapid times and therefore should adapt our World Cup to our times.”
After much deliberation over the years, this idea has officially been put forward by FIFA’s Head of Global Development and former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger.
According to this revamped proposal, the entire schedule for International Football is set to be changed from 2024 onwards with a decrease in the qualification games and an increase in top-level tournaments.
To maintain the above procedure, the team suggested consolidating a single block of qualifying games in October instead of qualifying games throughout the year which would ease the strain on players and cause less disruption to club-level football.
Then would arise the situation wherein, if a significant International tournament was held every year, when would players be given time to rest and recuperate before the start of the next season?
But this was countered by Wenger’s team, stating that they would hold these tournaments, majoritively in July, and succeeding this would guarantee the players 25 days of mandatory R&R before returning to club duties.
Furthermore, an essential detail about this plan is in their favour. Through this method, many countries will participate and provide chances to promising youngsters to play for their country at the best possible level.
But are players and managers willing to accept such a drastic change to the football season, and would they adapt in time?
Yes, at least, according to the people behind Wenger’s team, comprising of some of Football’s Greatest, including the likes of Ronaldo, Jurgen Klinsmann, Roberto Carlos, Didier Drogba, Peter Schmeichel, Tim Cahill, and many more all support this notion.
Brazilian great and two time World Cup winner Ronaldo Nazário termed it as ”Amazing” and insisted that the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi would feel the same way.
However, would they? An increase in the frequency of competitions like the World Cup would definitely lead to doubling of revenues as well, and with already so many competitions being held both at the club level as well as on the National level, this would lead to cramping of fixtures and hence overworking the players to be competing on different fronts for both club and country. UEFA has openly come out and said that they are against and are relatively confident that every governing body under FIFA would join them in the dissolution of this motion.
As for giving more countries the chance to participate, it’s all well and good, but would many countries be given the opportunity? And would they be able to compete with Financial Powerhouses that are built with world-class talent and solid economic backing?
Implementing a change like this would affect FIFA and its governing bodies. It would significantly impact the likes of the Olympics and the Women’s game by conflicting scheduling of these Competitions. Not to mention the economic strain it would have on the host countries.
All in all, progression shouldn’t be hindered, but in this case, do the pros outweigh the cons, or is it the other way round? Would going ahead with a plan like this cause the level of this competition to degrade? Would World Cup stories be seen as moments to be acknowledged rather than memories to be cherished? The decision will have to be made sooner or later, and it will be interesting to see how this pans out.