FIFA president Gianni Infantino is really good at coming up with bad ideas that generate a lot of short-term cash. On Friday morning, he revealed the organization is seriously considering holding the women’s World Cup every two years instead of every four. The idea was proposed by French FA president Noel La Graet, and Infantino liked it enough to float it publicly.
“[Le Graet] said we should organise the Women’s World Cup every two years instead of every four years because it has such a big and positive impact on the women’s game. This is something we need to consider and we are considering it. There are a lot of exciting points with regards to women’s football in the next few years.”
Infantino is right that the World Cup has a big impact on the women’s game, and a more frequent event would certainly raise awareness and investment. At least, at first. But there are several reasons why this is an extremely bad idea. Here are four of them.
It devalues women’s soccer’s most valuable product
The World Cup and Olympics are so valuable precisely because they only happen once every four years. A can’t-miss event becomes a lot more missable if it starts occurring twice as often. Eventually, viewership and ticket sales will decline, which will cause sponsorship and TV rights sales to decline. Show a little restraint, Gianni.
It devalues the greater international soccer ecosystem
If there’s a World Cup every two years, suddenly the European Championships and Olympics need to be seriously rearranged, or no longer feature world-class players. Other continental tournaments like the Asian Cup, Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations will never reach the level of prestige they have in the men’s game, which will limit the number of FAs willing to seriously invest in their women’s programs. If FIFA actually wants to grow the women’s game, it should figure out what it can do to assist confederations in making their regional tournaments the best that they can be.
FIFA needs to invest in a stronger club game more than the World Cup
Men’s international soccer is so strong because of the club game that feeds it. This is not a chicken-or-the-egg situation, we know which comes first: Strong clubs have to exist before international soccer can reach its full potential. Right now, there are fewer than 50 truly serious women’s clubs around the world. FIFA should focus its time and energy on fixing that.
There’s already enough money in football to build up women’s soccer without changing the World Cup
FIFA does not need to hold the World Cup twice as often to generate money to invest in women’s football. It already has billions to invest in women’s football. It can simply decide to do more for existing competitions right now if it genuinely wants to improve the standard of global women’s football and encourage more women to play the game.