Jurgen Klinsmann has thrown his weight behind Arsene Wenger’s push to hold the World Cup every two years.
Traditionally the competition is held every four years, but Arsenal legend Wenger, who is currently FIFA’s chief of global football development, wants to halve the time between events.
The idea has split football but Klinsmann, who famously has a rich World Cup pedigree, is backing the proposals after Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola also endorsed the idea.
Jurgen Klinsmann has joined Pep Guardiola in backing the idea of World Cups every two years
He said: ‘When you get an idea like this, at first it shocks you and you feel out of your comfort zone,’ said the Germany legend.
‘How can they change that? But there is far more behind the idea than that, and when you know Arsene Wenger, he is a very smart gentleman.
‘He isn’t just waking up in the morning and saying: ‘now we are going to do it every second year.’
Klinsmann suggests a new qualifying campaign could be created to ease the burden on stars
‘The goal behind this whole thing is to discuss what they think about it. Even if the reaction is negative, it’s important to have the debate about how we can create a global calendar in a better way for players, coaches, clubs and national teams.
‘How can we create a qualifying campaign that is less stressful for the top players in the world like [Lionel] Messi and Neymar, who have just travelled to South America and then playing on Saturday and Sunday in Europe?
‘Having a World Cup every two years has far more facets to it than just having the World Cup every four years.’
Arsene Wenger has put forward the proposals as FIFA’s chief of global football developement
However, UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin says European countries could stage a boycott
Wenger’s plan is to have a major international competition at the end of every season and a World Cup every two years, with fewer qualifiers for these tournaments which would only take place in October and March – a notable plus for players who have to travel very long distances to represent their country.
The Frenchman would like to see his proposal implemented in 2028, just two years after the 2026 World Cup in North America and Mexico.
Another potential upside is that holding a biennial tournament will mean that more countries are able to host the event for the first time.
Gareth Bale has said that he would prefer to stick the tradition of a World Cup every four years
However, there are also obvious downsides, with the co-ordination of a more regular World Cup potentially causing friction with continental bodies like UEFA, whose president Aleksander Ceferin has floated the possibility of a boycott by Europe’s member nation members and those in South America.
There is also the question of whether an increasingly congested summer schedule is too tough on the players – although Wenger has promised to introduce 25 rest days during the close season.
Several high-profile names in the sport have spoken out about the radical plans, with Gareth Bale revealing that he’d prefer the current arrangement to remain in place, while Gareth Southgate agreed with Wenger that the calendar needed to be ‘tidied up’, but isn’t sure a move to more matches in the summer is the way forward.