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World Cup Every Two Years, the Essence of Football Changed

World Cup Every Two Years,  the Essence of Football Changed

There has never been as much football as now. Every day, someone somewhere challenges someone else, and you can watch it anywhere in the world on some screen – live, on demand, or even just highlights, on Youtube, Dazn or Twitter. More football is on the way, soon the Champions League will consist of around a hundred more games a year. Meanwhile, our collective attention, as they call it in the studies, is shrinking, but it’s hard to stop this trend.
What FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his adviser Arsene Wenger have in mind most definitely lead to excess football. They want to play the World Cup every two years instead of the current four. The European leagues and other competitions will adapt to this pace, so in the future we will have a great tournament every year. So far there has always been a year of rest in between
This project has been contested by UEFA, many federations, clubs, as well as by fans and some players. As director of Euro 2024, I agree with them. Shortening the World Cup cycle would give the impression that only money matters in football. Major sporting events need patience and time. It is crucial for its sustainability.
Too much football will affect the fans. Great tournaments depend on emotions and memories of the past, often defining the story of their life. The Greeks were able to boast the title of European Champions for 4 years from 2004 to 2008, the Portuguese for 5 years, the Spaniards for 8. From 2014 to 2018, Germany was number one in the world. Accelerating the cycle would make these experiences more perishable, one tournament a year would have the same value as a new channel to follow on social media or a streaming app to follow.
Too much football would affect the players. “If you play every two years, mentally it gets tougher” Thierry Henry, who has played seven tournaments for France, commented on Infantino’s idea. “I fell apart every time.” What it means is that playing for the national team is a very special job. You play less for money, more for your country and for the fans. It comes with a lot of extra responsibility, it’s exhausting. I retired from the national team myself in 2014, I was in my sixth major competition. I had decided this for some time, because the double commitment is extremely intense. I played for another three years in the club.
Too much football, no less important, would affect the social value of this sport. The two formulas of the competitions – and Infantino and Wenger seem to underestimate this aspect – are different at the root. The club model is reminiscent of the business model. It is getting bigger in size, digital and abstract. The Champions League is a part of the entertainment industry.
And this always contrasts with the national team model which will always remain a piece of public heritage. The World Cup is more than just an economic model. And where it all comes together. Here football creates a connection with the people.World Cup Every Two Years,  the Essence of Football Changed
For Euro 2024 to become a party for everyone and for the whole country to enjoy the competition, the national team will have to provide a performance that is up to par. But it also poses important challenges to us organizers. With my collaborators we are following initiatives that go beyond sports competition. For example, we have launched a network for amateurs and children who play soccer. We want to support the clubs behind the movement so that the overall number of practitioners and volunteers grows enthusiasm, as happened after 2006. The European Championships should catalyze interest in the grassroots movement. We must not waste this opportunity because even a country like Germany only gets a tournament of this level every 20-30 years.
Euro 2024, the joint venture we have created between UEFA and the DFB (the German football federation), to organize the Europeans, has also developed a social responsibility strategy also to meet the highest environmental standards. We will involve communities, football will once again be at the center of society. Being a common denominator for all, it is the ideal opportunity to address issues such as diversity, inclusion, participation and equity. Even these editorials, which reach 25 different countries, serve this purpose.
To underline the motto “United by football”, it is natural to have Celia Sasic support me. You know the roots of football and have won everything: Champions League, two-time world champion, top man, European player of the year. Women and men should be equal, but it doesn’t happen everywhere, in football we are still behind.

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