Saudi Arabia Proposes Holding Men's, Women's World Cup Every 2 Years

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2021

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 15: France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris lifts the trophy during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has tabled a proposal to make the men's and women's World Cups biennial tournaments, according to the Associated Press' Graham Dunbar.

Dunbar noted the concept isn't a new one, with former FIFA President Sepp Blatter bringing it up in 1999. The topic will be discussed further at FIFA's annual meeting Friday.

The next men's World Cup is scheduled to begin in November 2022 in Qatar, which the tournament moved to the fall and winter seasons due to the traditionally high summer temperatures in Qatar.

The women will take center stage in the summer of 2023, with Australia and New Zealand sharing host duties.

In March, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger argued in favor of having the World Cup and Euros held every two years.

"If you look at the teams in the World Cups usually the average age is 27 or 28," he said on beIN Sports (via the BBC). "Because the World Cup is every four years there are very few chances to win it again because when they go back to the next World Cup they are 32 or 33.

"That's why maybe we should organize the World Cup every two years."

Critics of that argument would counter that the scarcity of World Cups is what makes the events so meaningful.

Supporters go into every tournament with the notion that top stars typically have only three or sometimes four bites at the apple. Whereas multiple club honors are often the expectation for the game's top players, one World Cup triumph is enough to be lionized forever.

It's not a stretch to say a biennial World Cup might cheapen the accomplishment somewhat.

And that's to say nothing of the fact that some players would almost be required to play year-round every season between their involvement in the World Cup and any continental competitions. According to Dunbar, that's a point FIFPRO, the players' union for world football, has raised already.

But money talks. Dunbar wrote how the event generates around $6 billion for FIFA through broadcasting and commercial rights.

From the moment he was elected as president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino has made it a goal to focus on the money being divided between each delegation. More World Cups would guarantee more cash for everyone.

Infantino has already expanded the World Cup to 48 teams starting in 2026, with the United States, Mexico and Canada all hosting matches.

Regardless of whether it's successful, Saudi Arabia's proposal is a natural next step.