The group created by FIFA to develop changes in the football calendar from 2025 has finalized a plan to be presented to the affiliated confederations. The idea is that the World Cup takes place every two years, and not four as it is currently, which would affect the period when clubs release players to the teams, the so-called FIFA-dates. The proposal has already generated criticism from important entities of the sport, such as the confederations of South America and Europe and the association of clubs leagues.
Today, there are five months (March, June, September, October and November) of nine-day windows (and two games) each. There are, according to the document, two options for changes in these FIFA dates:
1) FIFA creates a super window between October and November, of four weeks. It would be the only FIFA date in the middle of the European season, which runs between August and May. On these dates there would be Qualifiers for the biennial World Cup and for the continental ones (up to eight rounds), such as the Euro and Copa America, which, according to FIFA’s plan, would also take place every two years.
– October/November – super four week window
– June/July – official tournaments, such as the World Cup (even years) and continental (odd years), with the European seasons already completed
2) There are two-month windows: two to three weeks between October and November and a smaller one to two weeks in March — again there would be up to eight rounds for the Qualifiers. In this plan, FIFA dates would stop the European season twice:
– october – two to three weeks
– march – one to two weeks
– June/July – official tournaments, such as the World Cup (even years) and continental (odd years), with the European seasons already finished.
While national team coaches would miss dates for friendlies, they would gain longer periods to work their teams, not just nine days in spread months. And clubs would see their athletes travel less times a year, with less wear and tear.
According to the plan presented, the players would have vacations between July and August, of at least three weeks, but it does not include adjustments in calendars that have their championships held from January to December, such as Brazil. And this is one of the criticisms made by Conmebol, which also organizes all its club championships in the same year.
With the project ready, FIFA is seeking support to try to bring the idea to a vote in the next Congress, in May 2022 — it is necessary that the majority of the 211 affiliates approve. It already has, for example, the CAF (African Football Confederation) on its side, which could mean 56 votes if the entity votes in a bloc. There are also smaller federations in Asia, with Nepal and Bangladesh, in favor and FIFA hopes to have support also from the dwarf associations of Concacaf, the confederation of North and Central America.
On the outskirts of football, as these federations are called within FIFA, the project has reach when it says that there will be greater rotation in the choice of World Cup venues and a greater chance of participating in the final phase – and the text emphasizes that 133 of the affiliates even today they have not achieved such a feat.
But the elite is missing. Europe and South America, which hold all the World Cup titles from 1930 to date (in 20 editions), have shown themselves against changing the calendar, mainly because it would also change the frequency of their continental ones, which are now quadrennial like the Cup. Club and player associations were concerned about possible wear and tear by playing in national team tournaments every year — today there are odds off.
FIFA has selected some former players as poster boys for the project — Brazilians Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos are part of it. The idea is that they convince their regions that the proposal will reduce travel between continents with the reduction of FIFA dates, which would mean fewer unimportant games (translating: friendlies). And that young talents can be valued with the Biennial Cup, gaining more chances to compete in the tournament at the peak of their career.