Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have hit out at FIFA's plan to stage the World Cup every two years, saying such demands were too much for players.

Liverpool manager Klopp and Bayern Munich head coach Nagelsmann are considered two of Europe's top bosses, and their stance is directly contrary to the position taken by FIFA's Arsene Wenger.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger is chief of global football development with the world governing body, and he has said the proposals are "the right solution for the modern way to organise football".

As well as the biennial World Cup, qualifying games would take place in extended mid-season international breaks, which would mean time spent away from clubs is concentrated into one or two stints in a campaign.

Wenger may find support for various aspects of his reform plans, but shifting the World Cup from its long-standing tradition of happening every four years is a step too far for many senior figures in the game.

Klopp said in a Liverpool news conference on Friday: "There's no other sport in the world with such a relentless calendar. [There are] more demanding sports, but they don't run all year.

"We know why it's happening. Whatever people say ... it's all about money. That's fine. We do it because we love it and get lots of money as well.

"At one point, someone has to understand that without the players we cannot play this. No one is more important than the players. A World Cup every two years, then every two years there is the Euros too.

"So every year, a top-class player plays an international tournament. A three-week break every year?

"The ideas about reform are always about more games. There are too many 'meaningless games' [they say] but if you only have competitions under pressure that's difficult. We never have time for pre-season with key players. They play without a break. That's not right."

 

Nagelsmann's verdict reflected that of his fellow German Klopp.

"A World Cup every two years, I don't like that," Nagelsmann said in Bayern's pre-match news conference.

"I'm not a friend of that idea. On one hand it's the strain on all the players and of course it just diminishes a World Cup if it's every two years.

"We have such a flood of games, a schedule that's difficult to cope with, specifically here in Germany and here in Munich.

"We have to have proper finances, make sure that we have a good squad. We need bigger squads, that means you have bigger costs. You need 24 players because you have to compensate for all the injured players because of this busy schedule.

"At some point it doesn't make any more sense. The footballers are there to entertain the masses, and to thrill the masses. But of course these are people who have health and fitness issues every once in a while who need a day or two to regenerate.

"This incredibly busy schedule isn't good for the quality of the games.

"And if the quality of the games decreases then there's going to be less money in future – people will not watch as much football if it's slow, if the players are injured and can't run anymore."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin this week claimed teams from Europe and South America may boycott the World Cup if FIFA presses ahead with its plan.

The Premier League, meanwhile, was among a group of major European leagues that came out "firmly and unanimously" against FIFA's proposals.

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, aside from 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War, while the women's World Cup has followed suit since it was first staged in 1991. The men's 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar.

Arsene Wenger claimed there has been a "very positive" response to proposals for the World Cup to be staged every two years – as UEFA warned that its members could boycott the tournament.

The former Arsenal manager has become the figurehead for FIFA's mission to change the landscape of the world game, in plans that have been derided by UEFA and Europe's top leagues.

Wenger, 71, is FIFA's chief of global football development, and he has been at the forefront of promoting an idea that Saudi Arabia proposed to FIFA in May.

Frenchman Wenger said it would need to be a "democratic" decision by FIFA's members if global football's most important tournament is to shift from its current format, whereby it takes place every four years.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told The Times: "We can decide not to play in it. As far as I know, the South Americans are on the same page. So good luck with a World Cup like that. I think it will never happen as it is so much against the basic principles of football. To play every summer a one-month tournament, for the players it's a killer."

Wenger sees it a different way, claiming the theory that players would be overworked is a misnomer as he argued they would be in demand for another tournament if they are not required for the World Cup.

Speaking in footage shown by Sky Sports News on Thursday, Wenger said: "Overall, I think I have got a very positive response, but this decision is a democratic decision and will be made certainly by the 211 countries that are affiliated with FIFA.

"We continue to consult people and that's an ongoing process that will happen until December. After that it's down to all the federations to decide what will happen."

 

Wenger is backing a restructuring of the professional game that would see one or two extended international breaks during the domestic season, to allow for national teams to play a large tranche of fixtures rather than have various breaks spread across the year. He sees that, and the World Cup plan, as offering a prospect that would benefit football.

"I believe if I was inside the club I would sign with two hands for that programme. It would give me time with the players, to get their focus on what is important for the club," Wenger said.

"Overall I would say a better situation between club and national team football would improve the quality of the concentration on both sides. If we create room and we do not play big competitions, you will play small competitions.

"Don't think you will not play. The target of the players and football to improve all over the world is to play top-level competitions.

"After that I'm not hesitant at all, I'm 100 per cent convinced that what I propose is the right solution for the modern way to organise football."

FIFA's plan applies to men's and women's World Cups, but the men's tournament is overwhelmingly the world governing body's biggest provider of revenue.

A host of star former players from FIFA's 'Legends' programme have gathered in Doha, Qatar, this week to hear Wenger explain the plans, with Brazil great Ronaldo among them, giving the expansion his support.

There has been scorn for FIFA's plans from outside football, with World Athletics president Sebastian Coe concerned about the impact on the Olympic Games.

Coe, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, told The Guardian: "I can see no good reason for it. There may be vested interests here but the summer sports are protective about the landscape as it's hard enough for them as it is to grab space in the traditional or digital media.

"A biennial World Cup will inevitably start clashing with the Olympic Games too.

"I'm a big football fan, but I fear that you’re going to put a lot of players under some big physical stress. The clubs and leagues are all opposed to it. And my gut instinct is that you can keep cramming stuff into the calendar if you really want to, but less is more sometimes."

The Premier League was among a group of major European leagues that declared this week they are "firmly and unanimously" against FIFA's proposals.

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, aside from 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War, while the women's World Cup has followed suit since it was first staged in 1991.

The 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin turned up the heat on FIFA over proposals to hold men's and women's World Cups every two years, saying European football's governing body have "grave concerns" about the Arsene Wenger-backed concept.

In a letter to Football Supporters Europe executive director Ronan Evain, who had urged UEFA to fight FIFA's plan, Ceferin addressed the impact of transforming the global tournaments and said fans' concerns were "extremely valid and important".

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since its inaugural edition in 1930, aside from when the Second World War meant there was no tournament in 1942 or 1946, and the women's World Cup has also been a quadrennial event since 1991, when it was first staged by FIFA.

Former Arsenal boss Wenger has been campaigning for the change, in his role as FIFA's chief of global football development.

The FIFA congress in May saw a vote overwhelmingly go in favour of carrying out a feasibility study into the project, which was first proposed by Saudi Arabia.

However, Ceferin said in his letter, quoted in widespread reports on Friday: "UEFA and its national associations ... have serious reservations and grave concerns surrounding reports of FIFA's plans."

The UEFA chief said there was "widespread astonishment that FIFA appears to be launching a PR campaign", before the detail of any such dramatic change to the calendar has been revealed to key stakeholders. He said confederations, such as UEFA, along with national associations and leagues had not yet been fully put in the picture.

Ceferin added: "As one concrete example amongst so many, it is imperative to highlight the concerns shared across the footballing world regarding the impact a biennial FIFA World Cup would have on the international match calendar and, prominently in this context, on women's football."

That worry presumably centres on the diminished exposure the women's game might receive if its major events, such as the European Championship, clash with major men's tournaments.

Wenger has spoken in favour of the World Cup shift on several occasions, saying in July: "More knockout matches, fewer qualifying games. That's what the fans want.

"Think of it this way: 2026 the World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada; 2027 a European Championship and the other continental tournaments; 2028 another World Cup; and so on."

Erling Haaland will move to England because "the economic power of the Premier League is too strong", Arsene Wenger has said.

There is no shortage of suitors for Borussia Dortmund's superstar striker with Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain having all been linked to his signature.

Haaland penned a four-and-a-half-year deal with Dortmund when he joined in January 2020, but he looks set to be on the move next year as a reported €75m (£66m) release clause comes into effect.

The lure of Haaland is simple to see. Since making his debut for Dortmund only Robert Lewandowski (61) and Cristiano Ronaldo (50) have registered more than his 43 goals across Europe's top five leagues.

In the Champions League only Lewandowski has matched his tally of 20 since the Leeds-born striker made his debut in Europe's premier club competition.

The race for his signature is sure to hot up over the coming months but former Arsenal boss Wenger is sure he will head to England.

"I think that will happen. The economic power of the Premier League is too strong," Wenger told Bild.

"English football is dominant because it is where the most money is. The best players always go the best way to make the most money."

Wenger expects Haaland and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe – reportedly the subject of a huge deadline-day bid from Real Madrid – to continue to be prolific for years to come.

"Haaland is likely to be the next high-profile goalscorer after Mbappe. He's a super talent," Wenger added.

"His ambition, his will to score goals and the ability to fight in a duel [set him apart]. He's there and wants to win, there is something in him that is great for a striker."

Arsenal remain in "good shape" and have "potential" despite a shoddy start to the season, insists club legend Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners started the campaign with a dismal 2-0 loss at newly promoted Brentford and followed that up by losing by the same scoreline at home to Chelsea.

A 6-0 win over West Brom in the EFL Cup brought brief respite but Arsenal were then steamrollered 5-0 by champions Manchester City on Saturday – a match that saw Granit Xhaka sent off.

Although still in the infancy of the Premier League campaign, only one other side (Wolves) has failed to score this term, while only Crystal Palace have registered fewer shots on target that Arsenal's seven and there are just five who have created fewer chances than their 26.

When placed in the context of Arsenal shelling out the most money during the transfer window (a reported £123.3million) to land the likes of Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard, the situation looks bleaker still.

The pressure is building on boss Mikel Arteta as a result but Wenger, who won the Premier League three times and the FA Cup on seven occasions during a 22-year spell, called for calm in an interview with Bild.

"I'm 71. I've given this club the best years of my life. At the moment, I'm just a fan," he said.

"Today, the club is in good shape.

"They had two tough games [against Chelsea and Manchester City], the team has potential and I hope they can come back."

Arsenal are back in action at home to Norwich City on September 11.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes England's extra-time penalty in Wednesday's 2-1 Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark should not have been awarded.

Harry Kane scored England's 104th-minute winner, firing home the rebound after his spot-kick was initially saved by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Raheem Sterling won the penalty going down on the byline on the right side of the box under pressure from Joakim Maehle.

Sterling claimed post-game it was a "clear penalty" but Wenger - who is now FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development - disagreed, insisting the VAR should have summoned referee Danny Makkelie to look at the replay at least.

"No penalty. In a moment like that, I don’t understand why they [the VAR] didn't ask the referee to have a look at it to be clear," Wenger said on beIN SPORTS.

"In a moment like that it's important the referee is absolutely convinced it was a penalty. It was not clear enough to say 'yes it is'.

"He should've at least had a look at the screen. I don’t know why the VAR didn't ask him to go."

The 71-year-old former Arsenal boss did not go as far as saying the VAR had let down Denmark, labelling them "unfortunate".

"I think the VAR has let the referee down, not Denmark," Wenger said.

"Denmark is a bit unfortunate. It's difficult for the referee but he must have a look at it."

The penalty was the 17th awarded at Euro 2020, with Kane's initial effort becoming the eighth spot-kick missed.

Only 13 penalties were awarded in total in the group stages of the past three European Championships.

Last week, UEFA chief refereeing officer Robert Rosetti attributed VAR for the rise in penalties at this tournament.

England will play Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

Arsene Wenger has backed plans for the World Cup to be staged every two years, insisting "it is what the fans want".

The competition is held every four years and is due to be hosted by Qatar at the end of 2022.

However, world football governing body FIFA is carrying out a feasibility study into making the World Cup a biennial event.

That would appease broadcasters but has been opposed by leagues and clubs due to fears over player burnout.

But Wenger, who is now head of global football development at FIFA, has argued a revamp of the international football calendar will help players' wellbeing.

"I always had the feeling that the many shorter breaks were rather unfavourable for the players," he told German outlet Kicker. 

"Those were always moments of uncertainty. How are the players feeling mentally afterwards? Do you come back hurt?"

Wenger cited the example of Robert Lewandowski, who sustained a knee injury while on Poland duty in March and missed six games for Bayern Munich, including both legs of their Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint-Germain.

"That ruined Bayern's entire Champions League season," Wenger said.

"The national teams can meet in October, play seven qualifying games for a month and then play the finals of a tournament in June.

"We want to reduce the number of games – that's very important because we can see the condition of the players."

Speaking in March, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was open to any new ideas for the post-2024 football calendar, including the possibility of reducing the number of international breaks.

Wenger added: "More knockout matches, fewer qualifying games. That's what the fans want.

"Think of it this way: 2026 the World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada; 2027 a European Championship and the other continental tournaments; 2028 another World Cup; and so on.

"We guarantee a period of rest after every tournament."

From "Arsene Who" to "The Invincibles", via all those things he did not see, Arsene Wenger brought a whole new lexicon to English football.

He also changed the way the game is viewed in England, completely altering the horizons of a largely closed-off football culture to turbo-charge its transformation into the home of the most diverse, globally respected and richest domestic league on the planet.

Wenger's legacy in the Premier League is beyond question and compare, and will continue to be celebrated on happier occasions than Monday's anniversary of his 1,000th game at the helm (eek! More on that below, if you can bear it).

Across more than two decades, Wenger's Arsenal broke records, moved homes and changed their image forever. Here we look back at some memorable moments and the numbers behind a towering sporting era.

Ton-up strikers

Wenger's initial years in north London saw him skilfully combine the rugged English core of a team that previously enjoyed trophy success under George Graham with his more pioneering ideas – a blend that found full realisation with the 1997-98 double success.

"One of my jobs was to keep faithful to the qualities I had found here. I tried always to maintain the tradition and values of this club," Wenger said on the eve of his final game at Huddersfield Town in May 2018.

That was game 1,235 and game one took place on the other side of the Pennines against Blackburn Rovers on October 12, 1996.

Foremost among the qualities Wenger found at Arsenal were those of the man who would become the club's record goalscorer on his watch.

Ian Wright scored both goals to get the brave new era up and running with a 2-0 win over a club who had been champions of England a little over a year earlier.

Wright was 33 when Wenger arrived and injury curtailed his involvement in the glorious 1997-98 run-in. However, earlier in that season he broke Cliff Bastin's long-standing Arsenal club record and concluded his Gunners' career with 185 goals in 288 appearances.

The England striker's best mark would, of course, be surpassed by the great Thierry Henry, whose phenomenal haul of 228 all came on Wenger's watch.

Overall, there were five goalscoring centurions during the Wenger era, with Robin van Persie next on the list with 132 before his acrimonious departure to Manchester United in 2012.

Theo Walcott (108), Olivier Giroud (105) and Wright's one-time strike partner Dennis Bergkamp (102) were the other men into three figures.

Glory days at Old Trafford

That first taste of victory was one of 10 wins in 17 visits to Ewood Park, a win percentage of 58.8 per cent. Of the away or neutral venues Wenger's Arsenal played at in Britain, that ratio was only bettered by seven wins from 11 at Fulham's Craven Cottage (63.6 per cent).

Of course, there are other grounds far more synonymous with his reign, not least the home of Manchester United and his great rival Alex Ferguson.

Other than Highbury and the Emirates, Wenger managed his biggest number of Arsenal games at Old Trafford – 31 in total.

It was often an unhappy hunting ground, the scene of an 8-2 defeat in August 2011 that was his worst in terms of goals conceded and joint-heaviest by margin.

Only at Stoke City's Bet365 Stadium (18.2 per cent) and Tottenham's White Hart Lane (24 per cent) was Wenger's win ratio lower than at Old Trafford (W8 D6 L17 for 25.8 per cent). But when the wins came, they were seismic.

In March 1998, Marc Overmars nodded Nicolas Anelka's flick-on into his own path and steered beyond Peter Schmeichel for a 1-0 victory that proved pivotal in that season's title race.

Another iconic Arsenal moment came in May 2002, when Sylvain Wiltord pounced to beat compatriot Fabian Barthez and the Gunners secured Premier League glory on United's own patch.

There were more recriminations than celebrations in September 2003 after an ill-tempered 0-0 draw between the sides. However, had Ruud van Nistelrooy not crashed a penalty against the crossbar – much to Martin Keown's contorted, vein-popping satisfaction – Arsenal would not have been Invincibles.

7-up and springing Prague

An away ground not quite as synonymous with Wenger is the Madejski Stadium.

Nevertheless, Reading are the opponent Arsenal played most often while maintaining a 100 per cent record under the Frenchman, winning 10 out of 10.

The most famous of these wins was a 7-5 triumph in Berkshire in October 2012, where Arsenal averted EFL Cup embarrassment in utterly berserk fashion.

After 35 minutes, Reading were 4-0 up thanks to Jason Roberts, a Laurent Koscielny own goal, Mikele Leigertwood and Noel Hunt. Afterwards, their manager Brian McDermott, a former Arsenal player, would reflect upon the "worst" defeat of his career.

Walcott reduced the arrears before the interval and the England winger's second of the match deep into injury time, after a goal from Giroud and one at the right end from Koscielny, forced an additional half hour.

Marouane Chamakh put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the tie and, although Pavel Pogrebnyak made it 5-5, the Moroccan forward scored his second after Walcott completed his hat-trick to crown what Wenger dubbed "maybe my greatest comeback", with a touch of understatement.

It was not the only time Arsenal scored seven under Wenger and the biggest wins of his tenure came when they kept the back door shut, with Everton, Middlesbrough and Slavia Prague all beaten 7-0 in a spell spanning May 2005 to October 2007.

Coincidentally, Slavia's neighbours Sparta are next on Wenger's perfect record list after Reading, losing six out of six against Arsenal in the Champions League.

Mourinh-woe

Over time, an underlying warmth revealed itself in the Wenger-Ferguson rivalry. It was hard to say the same when it came to his jousts with Jose Mourinho.

Wenger was a "voyeur" and a "specialist in failure" according to Mourinho's acidic tongue and the older man could be similarly biting.

"When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent," he witheringly observed after Mourinho announced himself in English football with his 2004-05 Chelsea sweeping all before them.

It will therefore have stung deeply when Wenger's 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal saw them ransacked in a 6-0 demolition at Stamford Bridge on March 22, 2014.

If the manner of the loss was humiliating, the defeat itself was one to be expected. In 19 encounters with Mourinho, Wenger won two – a 10.5 per cent win ratio that is by far his worst against another manager, with 30.6 percent thanks to 15 victories from 49 attempts versus Ferguson next on the list.

Those paltry returns against the self-styled 'Special One' mostly come within a wider context of decline.

Wenger's first decade at Arsenal – spanning 1996-97 to 2005-06, their last at Highbury – yielded 11 trophies out of the 17 he won overall in north London, including all three Premier League titles.

However, Arsenal's win percentage held up after the move to Emirates Stadium, dipping fractionally to 57 from 57.6 per cent. They also scored slightly more often, with their goals-per-game figure up from 1.8 to 1.9 in the latter period.

By this point, Wenger was joined in the Premier League by the finest coaching talents from across Europe. It was a far cry from his own appointment, when he became only the fourth manager in England's top flight to hail from outside the British Isles.

Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and others had all come along to raise the bar Wenger set to even greater heights, although he would enjoy one last defining triumph at the expense of one of their contemporaries.

FA Cup specialist

Chelsea entered the 2017 FA Cup final as hot favourites to complete the double after romping to Premier League glory in Antonio Conte's first season in charge.

A 3-0 defeat to Arsenal the previous September inspired Conte to revert to his favoured 3-4-2-1 system and was the catalyst for a dominant revival.

This turn of events seemed to encapsulate the futility of the late Wenger years, when every small success appeared only to serve as a precursor for a greater disappointment.

You could even say the same for his last final in the competition he dominated, give it preceded his lowest ever Premier League finish of sixth in his farewell campaign.

But Arsenal were stirringly brilliant that day at Wembley. Per Mertesacker was wheeled out of cold storage to put in a colossal display at centre-back as Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey sealed a deserved 2-1 win.

Ramsey ranks 10th among Arsenal's top scorers of the Wenger era with 58 and two of those were FA Cup final winners, the Wales midfielder also netting decisively against Hull City in 2014.

Those were Wenger's fifth and seventh successes in a competition he has won more than any other manager in history, where his incredible Arsenal tenure means his position is ensured for posterity.

Gianni Infantino says FIFA must be open to revolutionising the international calendar, after Arsene Wenger proposed radical changes.

Speaking on beIN SPORTS this week, former Arsenal manager Wenger claimed more focus had to be put on FIFA's flagship competitions, including the World Cup.

The Frenchman is currently serving as FIFA's chief of global football development.

Wenger put forward a plan to host major tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championship every two years, to give more players the opportunity to play at these events during their prime years.

Such changes would mean major alterations to the calendar, but Infantino insists FIFA will rule nothing out, and decisions could be taken within the next 12 months.

"We need to be open to everyone, to everything, to every proposal, every idea," said the FIFA president.

"Arsene Wenger is not only a successful and brilliant manager, he is a professor of football but besides that we have, of course, our bodies and we will debate and discuss the calendar, starting now, because we need to come to a decision in the next few months, the sooner the better, by the end of the year or in the course of next year, for everyone to be able to plan."

The international schedule is not the only item up for debate, with Infantino also interested in a possible merger of North America's leading leagues – Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX.

MLS commissioner Don Garber commented in December that a merger was "a long way away", while FIFA has previously ruled out leagues spread across regions or continents, rather than individual countries.

However, Infantino seemingly sees things differently, as he stressed the need for other areas of the globe to challenge the quality on show in Europe.

"I think the potential in the United States and Mexico is enormous, each country by itself," he said.

"But of course if you could bring those two together that would be incredible and that could quite well be the best league in the world.

"Any discussion about organising such a competition, of course respecting the rules of member associations and FIFA and with the agreement of all stakeholders, any discussion in that respect is interesting and we see that in a positive light.

"Of course if we want club teams to be at the highest level around the world and not just in Europe, we need to have new ideas.

"We see the potential in North America, the economic potential and the potential in footballing terms. I trust them to take the best decisions in that regard."

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