Illustration by Sadie Winkelstein
The FIFA World Cup is an international soccer competition organized by the global soccer governing organization FIFA. Since 1930 the competition has been held once every four years. Recently, however, CONMEBOL, or the South American Football Confederation, has proposed to FIFA that the World Cup take place every two years.
There are multiple reasons that CONMEBOL wants this to happen. First, they want more individual players to have the opportunity to participate in the historic competition multiple times. CONMEBOL chief Alejandro Dominguez told the media, “It’s for the players because they could play four World Cups if we move to a two-year cycle. If we stay with this format many players will not be able to play more than two.” Another reason is to allow more countries to host the event. While these reasons are compelling, the increased profit that FIFA will generate by having more tournaments is likely the driving force behind this proposal. Changing the frequency of the World Cup could also provide a preferable alternative to many new leagues popping up around the world, such as the Nations League, an international soccer league in Europe. There are many people in opposition, for various reasons. For instance, some people say that changing the World Cup to become more often would take away from what makes it special. If it becomes a frequent event, it becomes less of a flagship part of the sport.
Also, one could argue that the World Cup may actually be more harmful to a country than beneficial. This is because many of the countries who are hosting the event do not have the economic means to pay for the massive investment it involves, such as building new stadiums. Although it brings in lots of tourism, it generally only benefits the wealthiest of society. Regardless, this decision will be significant whichever way it ends up, whether international soccer is to be based around a biennial World Cup, or multiple different international leagues.