First came the “no” from Aleksandr Ceferin, president of UEFA. And then came the “no” (which had originally been a “yes”) from Alejandro Dominguez, the man who runs South American soccer from Conmebol.
One day Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will have to invite Ceferin and Dominguez to dinner. Thanks to them, he saw the project of a World Cup every two years die almost without a flutter. Thanks to them, he did not have to confront FIFA, which is presided over by Gianni Infantino, himself a member of the IOC.
“Although at one point CONMEBOL supported the project in question, technical analyses showed that it is highly unfeasible,” the South American soccer governing body said in a statement released last weekend.
“Therefore, under the current conditions, it ratifies its support for the current World Cup model, with its deadlines and qualification mechanisms, considering it consistent with the spirit that animated those who conceived and founded this competition.”
In an interview with “The Times”, Ceferin had been less diplomatic.
“We can decide not to play in it,” Ceferin, head of European soccer’s governing body, told the London newspaper.
“As far as I know, the South Americans are on the same page. So good luck with a World Cup like that. I think it will never happen as it is so much against the basic principles of football”.
Last week, after the executive committee meeting, Bach made clear his lack of sympathy for the proposal that Infantino proposed to discuss within FIFA.
“This is an issue to be decided by FIFA and the continental associations. We are closely following and monitoring these discussions and find them very interesting,” Bach told a press conference.
Should the idea of a biennial World Cup from 2028 go ahead, the Los Angeles 2028 Games will share the summer (boreal) with a World Cup, and the same would happen in 2032 with Brisbane. The Copa America and the European Championship would also suffer.
“I won’t add fuel to the fire of this,” Bach added. “Let this discussion evolve, and let the possible consequences of this move be clarified by FIFA.”
FIFA approved a “feasibility study” to analyze the idea and Infantino promised, in an interview with SNTV, “decisions by the end of the year.”
But UEFA and Conmebol have already given him the thumbs down. The South Americans made it clear that it is a bad idea: “A World Cup every two years would mean an overload practically impossible to manage in the international calendar of competitions”.