Arsene Wenger eyes ‘gamble’ to ‘tackle congestion’ of international calendar

Arsene Wenger eyes ‘gamble’ to ‘tackle congestion’ of international calendar
Wenger has supported controversial plans for the World Cup to be staged every two years

Former football manager Arsene Wenger says he is “gambling” with proposals to change the international calendar so he can “make the game better”.

The ex-Arsenal boss wants fewer international breaks and for the World Cup to be held every two years. His support for the latter, controversial proposal has been met with opposition from many voices in football but he says he is motivated by good intentions.

He told BBC podcast The Sports Desk: “The risk is to make football better, and I’m ready to take that gamble. [The current schedule] offers no clarity, no simplicity, no modern way to organise a season.”

Wenger, head of global development for world governing body Fifa, added he would tackle “chaos and congestion” in football: “What is absolutely detrimental to the players is repeated travelling and jet-lag. With reducing the qualifying period, I believe that the clubs will benefit, the players would benefit.

“The World Cup is such a huge event that I don’t think it will diminish the prestige. You want to be the best in the world and you want to be the best in the world every year.

“I’m not on an ego trip. I’ve been asked to help to shape the calendar of tomorrow, I consult the whole world.”

On Wednesday, Uefa released a strong statement opposing the plans, which they said endangered the sport.

It detailed the dangers as:

  • “The dilution of the value of the No1 world football event, whose quadrennial occurrence gives it a mystique that generations of fans have grown up with.
  • “The erosion of sporting opportunities for the weaker national teams by replacing regular matches with final tournaments.
  • “The risk to sustainability for players, forced to engage in summer high intensity competitions every year instead of longer recuperation breaks in alternate years.
  • “The risk for the future of women’s tournaments, deprived of exclusive slots and overshadowed by the proximity of top men’s events.”