The former Arsenal boss says a quality over quantity approach is needed when organising the international football calendar
Arsene Wenger has backed plans to hold the World Cup every two years as part of a revamp of the international football calendar.
World governing body FIFA is currently carrying out a feasibility study into making the men’s and women’s tournaments a biennial event rather than every four years.
Wenger believes it would be possible to fit more World Cups into the schedule by reducing the amount of qualifying games and international breaks during the season.
What did Wenger say?
The former Arsenal boss is now FIFA’s chief of global football development and a restructuring of international football has been high on his agenda in recent months.
The Frenchman believes the current system of short international breaks dotted throughout the season is not suitable for the modern game as it places a greater strain on the players and can disrupt the campaigns of domestic teams.
Wenger cited the example of Robert Lewandowski, who was injured on international duty with Poland in March and subsequently missed both legs of Bayern Munich’s Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain the following month.
He told Kicker: “I always had the feeling that the many shorter breaks were rather unfavourable for the players. Those were always moments of uncertainty. How are the players feeling mentally afterwards? Do you come back hurt?”
“This is exactly what happened to Robert Lewandowski, who was injured with the Polish national team against Andorra. That ruined Bayern’s entire Champions League season.”
Instead, Wenger says there should be one month-long international break in October for teams to play their entire qualifying campaign.
That would see the number of days reserved for international breaks reduced to 28 from 50, and the number of qualifying matches would drop from 10 to seven.
“The national teams can meet in October, play seven qualifying games for a month and then play the finals of a tournament in June,” he added.
“We want to reduce the number of games, that’s very important because we can see the condition of the players.”
‘More knockout matches, fewer qualifying games’
Wenger says the reduction in the number of days reserved for international breaks would allow for a major tournament to be held each summer with adequate rest time for the players afterwards.
He believes football fans much prefer knockout tournaments than qualifying games, so this would be simply giving them what they want.
“We guarantee a period of rest after every tournament. Think of it this way: 2026 the World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada; 2027 a European Championship and the other continental tournaments; 2028 another World Cup; and so on,” he said.
“The competitions will all remain in place until 2024, and changes can only be made after that.
“More knockout matches, fewer qualifying games. That’s what the fans want.”