Africa has given its backing to staging the World Cup every two years even though it already hosts the African Cup of Nations on a biennial basis.
Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Patrice Motsepe said his organisation firmly backs the proposal put forward by Saudi Arabia at last month’s Fifa Congress.
“Taking into account the serious financial challenges, lack of infrastructure and facilities, African football could probably be the biggest beneficiary of a World Cup every two years.”
Staging the competition biennially would double the income Fifa, which is studying the feasibility of the Saudi proposal, makes from its most lucrative competition.
Africa’s hope is that any boost in revenue would ultimately filter down to its member associations which could then use the funds to develop the sport.
Yet Motsepe was unable to explain how Africa would be able to accommodate both a World Cup and Nations Cup, and their qualifying campaigns, every other year.
At present, the finals are played in alternative years after Caf moved the Nations Cup from even to odd years in 2013 in order to avoid staging the competition in the same year as a World Cup.
One of the reasons given for this was the poor performance of African teams at the World Cup, although none of its side have reached the quarter-finals – the furthest the continent has ever gone – since the switch.
“We will obviously have to look at the totality of our competitions,” Motsepe said when asked how biennial World Cups and Nations Cups could work.
“The World Cup taking place every two years is being looked at by Fifa and they have to go through the processes. At the right time, we will take the right decisions to position African football in the right manner.”
Africa’s top teams already face a challenging 2022.
They will start the year contesting a coronavirus-delayed Nations Cup in Cameroon from January-February, while they will end it, from November-December, at the World Cup in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia’s proposal to Fifa’s members during a virtual congress last month was overwhelmingly approved, as 166 member nations voted in favour with just 22 opposing the notion.
Desperate to boost Africa’s global standing through a mix of investment and development plans, Motsepe is keeping an open mind about the future of both the world and African games.
“Having the World Cup every two years will be of huge benefit to the world but definitely more so to the developing world in particular,” he said in Morocco ahead of Saturday’s African Champions League final.
“If there is a need for a readjustment and a reassessment (of our competitions), we will do that. Right now, it’s a little too early to postulate what will happen with the competitions we have.”
Although Gianni Infantino has previously suggested the Nations Cup should be played every four years, this is an issue where Motsepe notably disagrees with the Fifa President.
Infantino questioned the commercial benefits of having a Nations Cup every two years, although that is now the very proposition Fifa is exploring with its own elite competition.
“We believe the future of football is at a critical juncture,” Saudi Arabia’s football federation president said when proposing a more regular World Cup.
“It is important to review how the global game is structured, which should include whether the current four-year cycle remains the optimum basis for how football is managed both from a competition and a commercial perspective as well as overall football development.”