Football: Fifa consults to better impose its biennial World Cup

“The most inclusive and in-depth consultation process the football world has ever seen internationally. “ President Gianni Infantino does not hesitate to praise it, this vast program that his International Football Federation (Fifa) has just launched to collect the opinions of all players in the round ball on the reform of international match schedules, and in particular on its flagship measure: a World Cup every two years.

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On September 30, at a four-hour online summit bringing together FIFA member associations, Gianni Infantino made sure not to anger anyone, ensuring that “Everyone must come out a winner from this process”, but hammering that his vision “Is to make football truly global”. Between the lines, it is all the stake of the weeks to come which can be read. Because a battle is well underway.

Major hostility to reform

This World Cup every two years is not a new idea. Gianni Infantino’s predecessor, Sepp Blatter, had suggested it in the late 1990s. But no one had dared to touch the legendary competition. Nearly a quarter of a century later, at least one consensus is emerging: the need to change an international calendar that no longer satisfies anyone. Too many appointments, too many periods in the year forcing players to join their national team, generating fatigue and risk of injury at home, and discontent among club managers forced to let them go.

The solution ? Director of development for Fifa since the end of 2019, ex-Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has been exposing it for a few weeks: more than one or two international breaks (against five today), a World Cup every two years, alternating with a continental competition, such as the Euro for example, which would also become biennial. Just like the Women’s World Cup which would follow the same path.

Since the announcement of the project, a few players have shown major hostility. The continental bodies of Europe (UEFA) and South America (Conmebol), the world union of players (Fifpro), associations of supporters. Individually, voices are raised against the change, from coach Didier Deschamps to his Belgian counterpart Roberto Martinez, including former players like Thierry Henry.

For them, a World Cup every two years would dilute the interest of the event, and a major annual international event would exhaust the players. “Have the current players been asked what they think? They are not in favor ”, recently assured the former Bleu on an English channel. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin did not hesitate to wave the threat of a boycott if the reform were to be carried out. Between pro and anti, war is declared.

Playing the rich against the poor

For FIFA, it is first and foremost a matter of communication: convincing that it wants above all a universal development of the game, by responding in particular to the needs of Africa and Asia whose competitions obviously do not have the influence and value of those played by Europeans and South Americans. The bottom line is also largely financial. With a biennial World Cup, Fifa hopes to increase its income, dangling an interesting runoff to neglected continents.

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A logic that UEFA can afford to denigrate: with its annual European cups, it generates twice as much income as Fifa: $ 12.5 billion from 2017 to 2020, a period that does not even take into account the Euro postponed to 2021, against 6.4 billion for Fifa. Fifa can suddenly play the institution’s card, defending the rest of the world against the interests of the richest.

A vote must finally settle the debates (read opposite). To win, Fifa must convince 106 associations of its 211 members. The African Confederation, whose new president (elected in March 2021), lawyer and billionaire businessman, is known to be very close to Gianni Infantino, declared itself rather favorable last July. She represents 54 votes at the Fifa Congress. The Caribbean Football Union, with its 27 votes, is also won over. The Asian Confederation is still on the reserve, but some of its 47 federations are already applauding with both hands (Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka). The coming weeks indeed promise a lot of backstage turmoil.


A world summit by the end of the year

At the same time as the launch of the consultation process, Fifa announced a calendar on September 30. The current consultation phase also concerns supporters, Fifa promising an international survey of a sample of more than 100,000 people.

Next November, ” a full report on the process will be published and discussed during a ” world summit “That Fifa must organize” by the end of the year “. Will a vote then be decided to effect a change? The vagueness remains on the subject. Even if Fifa would like to go fast, it still has a little time to impose an upheaval that would come into force in 2028.



Violence between supporters: how to better prevent it?

Desperate repetition. The seventh day of Ligue 1, this Wednesday, September 22, however, did not present high-risk posters. It prevents. The sad spectacle of the invasion of the lawn, which began on August 22 during the Nice-Marseille meeting, and reproduced on Saturday September 18 for the clash between Lens and Lille, had a third episode after the final whistle between Angers and Marseille.

This draw (0-0) would become even more so, with first exchanges of various projectiles between the two “kops” of supporters requiring the intervention of stewards and CRS. The ace. A few die-hards managed to break the security cordon to punch the green square.

A few hours earlier, near Montpellier, it was a bus of Girondins de Bordeaux supporters who fell into an ambush at the exit of the motorway by opposing fans: paving in order, broken glass … and 16 injured Bordeaux side, some of which need to be taken to hospital.

A phenomenon affecting other countries

“There is undoubtedly a revival of activism that can also be observed in other countries, such as in Italy where a serious injury was to be deplored in a lower division last weekend, or in England during a recent Leicester-Naples, underlines Sébastien Louis, sociologist at the European School of Luxembourg and specialist in radical supporters. We can probably attribute the phenomenon to the frustrations accumulated during the Covid period. And note that it is not only ultras who are in the maneuver, the images showing in these disorders sometimes known hooligans, but also lambda supporters. “

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Against this violence, the response of the football authorities, with rare exceptions, until then has been limited to collective sanctions. On August 8, the Montpellier supporters were the first to ignite the fuse by throwing bottles against their Marseille counterparts. Consequence: the Disciplinary Commission of the Professional Football League punishes the club with a closed session for three matches. Against Nice, it was also three games behind closed doors, plus two points of suspension, one of which was suspended. The Lens club, for its part, has been sanctioned for the moment by two games behind closed doors as a precaution, pending the results of the investigation on October 6.

“If Nice had been sentenced to 10 or 15 games behind closed doors, I am not sure that the supporters of Lens would have entered the field”, reacted the Montpellier striker Valère Germain, one of the few players to take a position on the subject. On the contrary, many experts point to the limit of these collective sanctions.

“There are three times more closed doors today than ten years ago, and ultimately that does not deter anyone, underlines Me Pierre Barthélémy, lawyer of the National Association of supporters which brings together about forty Ultras groups in France. In the current legal arsenal, individual sanctions are however possible, but are rarely applied: barely 200 people in France are banned from the stadium, against 10,000 in England and 4 to 5,000 in Germany ”.

An organization to review in the stadiums

This individual component makes it possible to exclude supporters identified by a judicial ban (up to five years, taken by the judge), administrative (for two years, and three if recidivism, taken by the prefect), or commercial (refusal to sell ticket up to 18 months, taken by the club) requires a thorough investigation using the video surveillance systems that equip most stadiums today. “Obviously, it is easier to impose a closed door or as a preventive measure to prohibit the movements of supporters”, regrets Me Barthélémy.

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For Sébastien Louis, the solution also involves a reflection around a round table “Putting the groups of supporters in front of their responsibility, stakeholders of the problem but also of the solution. An upstream preventive component added to individualized sanctions would make it possible to move forward. Just like a meeting between those in charge of security in the stadiums to exchange good practices. “

During Lens-Lille, the intervention of the security forces effectively avoided too violent contacts. Elsewhere, the events reveal some shortcomings in the organization of parking for visitors, or in buffer zones between supporters that are too narrow. “75% of the stewards have also been renewed since the Covid period, with the loss of skills that this generates”, assures Me Barthélémy. Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu recently acknowledged that in terms of training too, “We have to think together with the clubs”.


Prison required against a Nice supporter

One year of imprisonment including six months suspended: this is the penalty required Wednesday, September 22 against the Nice supporter guilty of a kick against the Marseille playmaker, Dimitri Payet, on August 22 during the Mediterranean derby. This 28-year-old temporary worker was filmed by the stadium’s CCTV cameras, the first to enter the pitch and move towards the Marseille player.

He has “Ashamed of his gesture” and is in “An attitude of repentance”, pleaded his lawyer Me Benjamin Taïeb. The lawyer of the Professional Football League, Mr.e Benjamin Peyrelevade, for his part, underlined the need to stop these incessant overflows in the stadiums by asking himself: “We wonder what will be the next step”. The decision was put under advisement as of September 30.



Euro 2021: Christian Eriksen, the Danish victim of cardiac arrest, is better

Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, who suffered cardiac arrest during the Denmark-Finland game on Saturday June 12, said “To be fine despite the circumstances”, in a message posted Tuesday on his Instagram account. “I still have to do tests at the hospital but I feel good”, he wrote under a picture of himself smiling, thumbs up, on his hospital bed.

“Now I will support the guys from the Danish team for the next matches. Play for all of Denmark », added the 29-year-old, who also thanked his fans for all of their messages.

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“No explanation” for this discomfort

Saturday, towards the end of the first period of Denmark-Finland, far from the ball and any opponent, Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the field, his eyes rolled back. On Sunday, the selection doctor Morten Boesen had said no “No explanation” to this discomfort. “He was gone and we did a heart massage to revive him. It was a cardiac arrest ”, he had explained.

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