- Governance in FIFA is a concern for leagues, particularly around unilateral decision-making and expansion of international competitions, which puts pressure on regional and national league calendars.
- The centralized organization of the 2022 World Cup in Doha was successful, but the upcoming 2026 World Cup, which will have multiple organizing committees across different markets, may face challenges.
- Leagues and clubs are concerned about the financial impact of the World Cup, particularly the need to pay players for almost one year without related returns.
- More organization around confederations and limits on what they request from national teams and players in terms of qualifications are important, especially as more teams will qualify for the World Cup in the future.
- The amount of football being played is a concern, but the number of players playing too many matches is not very big. The money comes from the leagues, not the elite competitions. It is vital to cater to fans' health and help them access services during the World Cup.
The World Cup is undoubtedly the most prestigious and widely anticipated football tournament in the world, but there are growing concerns about its current format and how it could be improved to benefit players, clubs, and fans. During a recent discussion at the Investopia, Bernard Caiazzo, the President of AS Saint Etienne, moderated a panel of experts that included Lorin Parys, the CEO of the Belgian Pro League, Brian Bilello, the President of the New England Revolution, and Javier Morente Garcia, Attache to the Presidency and Head of Relations with International Sports Associations at La Liga.
One of the major issues discussed was governance at FIFA and the unilateral aspect of decision-making, particularly in relation to issues affecting regional and national competitions. The speakers also raised concerns about the expansion of the number of teams participating in international competitions, which would require more calendar day commitments at the international level, putting more pressure on regional and national league calendars.
The panelists agreed that the centralized organization of the 2022 World Cup in Doha was a success, allowing for a large fan fest, but this may not be possible for the 2026 World Cup, which will have multiple organizing committees with different markets. However, Javier Morente Garcia pointed out that organizing international competitions across different cities is feasible, citing the success of the Eurocup 2020, where distances between different venues did not hinder the success of the tournament.
One of the major concerns for leagues is the effect of the World Cup on their revenues, particularly having to pay their players for almost a year with no related returns. The panelists suggested that FIFA should work on more organization around confederations and more limits around what they request from national teams and players in terms of qualifications, especially in the near future, with more teams qualifying for the World Cup.
Brian Bilello expressed his support for the idea of having 48 teams in the next World Cup and suggested that there should be standardization of the amount of time players could be away from their clubs. The panelists also discussed the importance of catering to fans from different backgrounds and languages, making services accessible to all.
When discussing player health, the panelists agreed that there is a lot of football being played, but the number of players playing too many matches is not very big. The majority of players play between 40 and 42 games, and the ones that usually reach the finals are usually the big teams who partake in regional championships. There is a tendency to focus on elite competitions, and there will be more calendar challenges with more teams being included in the World Cup.
The discussion also touched on the fiscal implications of the World Cup hiatus for leagues, with clubs paying players for almost a year when they are not playing. This means that clubs have expenses with no output, which could lead to fiscal investigators asking for more taxes to be paid for the state. The panelists stressed the importance of balancing the perspectives of different countries and leagues when it comes to organizing the World Cup.
The discussion concluded with the panelists agreeing on the significance of considering the perspectives of all stakeholders in the decision-making process. While there are certainly challenges to be addressed, the World Cup remains an incredible opportunity to bring people together and celebrate the beautiful game, and the panelists expressed their optimism that improvements can be made to ensure its continued success in the future.