Germany and Portugal slam FIFA’s ‘Wenger plan’ as damaging to men’s and women’s game

September 20 – Despite FIFA insisting it has majority support for its controversial idea of a World Cup every two years, the German and Portuguese federations are the latest bodies to condemn the concept.

FIFA claimed last week it has the backing of fans for a biennial tournament but UEFA and Conmebol oppose it and now more and more individual associations are making their feelings known.

The board of the German FA (DFB) said FIFA had ignored due process by proposing the plans first to a group of former players and that such drastic changes “cannot be made without the approval of European associations and European soccer.”

Holding the World Cup every two years and drastically reducing release periods for national teams “would be a major blow to football in Germany, in Europe, but also worldwide,” the DFB stated.

Attacking the way the narrative has unfolded, the DFB said it was “incomprehensible that FIFA’s top management, contrary to all principles of good governance, chose to present the proposal to the ‘FIFA legends’ and spread news of the meeting to the media rather than consulting the members of its own Council first.”

Germany also expressed concern for women’s competitions if the biennial move bears fruit. The women’s World Cup is currently held in odd-numbered years deliberately to avoid clashes with major men’s events.

“If either a men’s World Cup or European Championship takes place every summer, the women’s and junior tournaments would be marginalized in the shadow of the men’s competitions,” the DFB said.

Men’s and women’s players would face increased “physical and mental strain” and the new competition schedule “would lead to a significantly increasing risk of injury,” it added.

The Portuguese federation expressed similar concerns in a statement released jointly with other bodies including the Portuguese league and the local players’ union.

They listed 10 reasons against the plans, including the impact on players’ mental and physical health, the overlapping of men’s and women’s competitions, the impact on youth competitions and the “clear saturation” of the television and commercial rights market.

“For all these factors and many others, it is clear that we cannot be in favour of such a measure being implemented and even less as a result of a non-existent consultation process, in terms of clubs, leagues, federations, players’ unions, coaches and referees’ concerns,” the statement said.

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