A Failed Biennial World Cup Could Lead to New Global Tournament
FIFA’s vice-president, Victor Montagliani, believes he has a possible solution to bridge the divide over the proposed biennial World Cup ahead of FIFA’s December 20th planning summit with all national associations.
In an interview with Reuters, Montagliani proposed that a tournament in the mold of the Confederations Cup, or a global version of the Nations League, could be preferred to a biennial World Cup. He also indicated that using different tournament formats to the World Cup could increase fan engagement and excitement for a new event.
Montagliani is also the president of CONCACAF, the governing body for the sport in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, has been pushing a biennial World Cup to help grow the game and reshape the sport’s calendar.
24 November 2021, 20:56 GMT
The FIFA president, however, has been at odds with UEFA, Europe’s governing body, over the former’s desire to increase the frequency of the World Cup from once every four years to once every two years. Many leagues and clubs have also voiced their opposition to FIFA’s desired biennial World Cup.
At one point, UEFA threatened to boycott an additional World Cup. The current calendar for international tournaments ends in 2024, which puts the impetus on FIFA and other governing bodies to come to a resolution.
Infantino said, "We need to look at sporting and economic merits, then we can have a reasoned discussion about World Cups and perhaps other competitions."
Montagliani, in a possible effort to appease Infantino, UEFA, leagues, and clubs, suggested that smaller alternative tournaments would be discussed this month.
While he has indicated that he’s willing to walk away from a biennial World Cup, he noted, "The principle of having an event, in between World Cups, is something I am totally for."
"The question is what is that going to be, how do we look at it, how does that affect other things like qualification processes and tournaments that are already there? That is the process that we need to go through," he added.
15 November 2021, 04:44 GMT
One suggestion that Montagliani has pushed is to replicate a tournament that resembles that old Confederations Cup. The event hasn’t been played since 2017 and saw the champions of each confederation compete in an eight-team tournament.
Montagliani expressed that a global Nations League could be pursued. He said, "Four or five years ago we had discussions over a 'Global Nations League’ so these discussions are not foreign to the table. They might look different, whether it is a Global Nations League, a Confederations Cup.”
The effect that another global tournament could have on the sport has been a main sticking point for UEFA, clubs, and leagues. Montagliani is aware of those concerns, which is why he believes a renewed Confederations Cup, where there is no additional qualification process, could be a popular compromise.
"What I would like to see is [an analysis of] the fall-out, not so much on the revenue side but what is the impact on the ecosystem we currently have,” Montagliani stated, adding, “I think our approach is to look at this from a holistic standpoint."
Montagliani has been willing to embrace change when it comes to tournaments. He made CONCACAF's club competition a straight knockout tournament, eschewing the traditional group stage to the knock-out stage format of most large tournaments.
He believes that a straight knockout-style tournament, in lieu of a biennial World Cup, could be what the sport needs.
"It could be completely different from what a World Cup would be,” he offered, suggesting that it could be “a different format that we haven’t thought about that could be exciting for fans.”