FIFPRO has revealed a 1,000-person survey that suggests 75% of men’s professional footballers want to keep the FIFA World Cup every four years.
Following a proposal by FIFA to switch the World Cup to every two years, the organisation stated that any plans to change the match schedule ‘must have the agreement of players’. This was followed by a process to demonstrate their opinions as part of a wider consultation on workload in the men’s game.
The survey stated that 77% of players from both Europe and Asia prefer a World Cup every four years, 63% from the Americas said they favour the tournament every four years and 49% of players in Africa prefer a World Cup every four years, with the remainder split between a two or three-year cycle.
However, a biennial World Cup would create opportunities for further sponsorship and media rights agreements, with a greater fixed slot in the football calendar.
Early last year, FIFA had already launched two invitation-to-tender documents in sub-Saharan Africa for the media rights to the men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup, and with a more frequent competition, this would give less-mainstream firm’s more broadcast opportunities.
With regards to sponsorship, in recent months, Mengniu, a dairy product manufacturer in China, became an official sponsor of the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which served as a previous sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Having an increased number of World Cups would create further revenue for committed sponsors such as Mengui, whilst it would also give more nations the opportunity to stage the tournament, such as Saudi Arabia.
In a release, FIFPRO commented: “While a clear majority of players support the current frequency of the World Cup, a demand exists, particularly in smaller and medium-sized markets, to further develop and strengthen national team competitions. This is in line with FIFPRO’s position on encouraging investment into regional competitions, based on the requirements of the local market.”
FIFPRO General Secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, claimed that the player survey shows most footballers around the world have a ‘clear preference’ to play the World Cup every four years.
He concluded: “At the same time, the results demonstrate the importance of domestic league competitions to players. These leagues are the bedrock of our game and we have to do more to strengthen them both for the sake of players and the overall stability of professional football.
“Another key finding from players is that only 21 percent of them believe that their voice is respected and that their well-being is adequately considered in the context of international football governance. Therefore, this survey underlines the need for more collective bargaining frameworks in our industry, especially at the international level.”
There had previously been reports of also staging the Women’s World Cup every two years, as it is hoped that by doubling the frequency, this would create further growth opportunities for the women’s game.