FIFA Reforms Set To Decrease Fixture Congestion

BONGANI MALUNGA

A Technical Advisory Group led by legendary coach Arsene Wenger has proposed new FIFA reforms that are aimed at easing fixture congestion and difficult travel schedules for players around the world. Titled ‘The Football of Tomorrow’, the FIFA Technical Advisory Group has proposed a new fixture schedule that would ease the current conundrum that pits clubs against national federations in terms of the availability of players.

Orange

The main aim of the reforms is to stop the current stop and go throughout the season whereby players travel for international matches during the season (in September, November and March) in most cases. In the current set up, players have to travel between continents in a difficult travelling schedule.

Wenger and the advisory group have recommended having a single month dedicated to international football whereby qualifiers and friendly games are all squeezed into one month to prevent numerous stoppages during the club football season.

One of the options is to stage all international qualifiers in October to complete the whole continental qualification schedule, after that the remaining months would be dedicated to having a flowing schedule for club football. The second option would be selecting two months of international football, this option would see October and March strictly dedicated to international football.

The most talked about reform is the recommendation of a biennial World Cup, which has drawn mixed reactions. The Technical Advisory Group has recommended the staging of the FIFA World Cup every two years. There are currently 133 countries that have never qualified for the World Cup and only one African country (South Africa) has hosted the tournament.

Speaking in a virtual press conference after the presentation, Wenger stated that a biennial World Cup could see many countries standing a chance to host and participate in the competition. This could increase many African countries’ chances of hosting the competition as the bidding process would be open form more qualified countries to stake their claim to host the global show-piece. Africa will eventually see an increase in participating slots from five countries to nine in a new 48 team World from 2026.