Southgate: World Cup could lose “allure” if played every two years


areth Southgate has warned that “the allure” of the World Cup could be lost by staging the tournament every two years and says the football calendar needs “fewer matches of better quality”, rather than more competitions.

However, Southgate insisted he is “open minded” about FIFA‘s proposal to scrap the current four-year World Cup cycle and cited the unexpected success of cricket’s The Hundred.

The England manager revealed he has met with Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s chief of global football development and the driving force behind the plans, to discuss the proposals and said they needed “a lot more thought”.

The 211 national football federations and associations that make up FIFA’s congress would need to vote on the plans, while Wenger is also pushing for all qualifying matches for international tournaments to be played in one block in October.

“I actually met with Arsene a couple of weeks ago – he was meeting a few different coaches – so I have a pretty good idea of the proposals,” Southgate said ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier in Poland on Wednesday.

“I think the whole calendar needs reviewing. My feedback would be I know our generation are going to find a World Cup every two years quite a strange concept.

“But I also know that things like The Hundred in cricket have been an incredible success, so I’m open minded about some of those things.

“But the calendar generally needs to be tidied up. We can’t just add more in. I agree generally with the concept of better quality matches, fewer matches [of] better quality across the board, but there’s lots of other things that need consideration. We can’t just add more in at the moment.

“We keep adding more competitions in and I’m intrigued to see what comes out to allow that space to happen because we can’t keep adding onto the workload of the players.”

Pushed on whether he was for or against a World Cup every two years, Southgate was diplomatic but added that there were elements of the proposals “that wouldn’t work”.

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