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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.

→ READ. Football: the Blues regain victory against Finland

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.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: three European Cups or nothing

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.

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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.

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Football: supporters find the stands and impose themselves as guardians of the temple



The return of strong emotions, excessive outbursts and bitter disappointments. The Champions League resumes its rights, with Wednesday, September 15, the entry into the running of a PSG that everyone hopes finally led by his supersonic trio: Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Neymar.

A return that should also celebrate the return of supporters after a year of shocks behind closed doors. UEFA is once again allowing fans in the stands – an opportunity to applaud a decision by football’s governing bodies. It is not that common. Because we no longer count, in recent months, the supportive anger against institutions or clubs promoting a certain idea of ​​football.

Rapid mobilization against the biennial World Cup

Latest example to date, the project refined by the International Football Federation (Fifa) and praised by the former coach Arsène Wenger, who became the development director of the organization: a World Cup every two years, in 48 countries, in alternation with a selection competition like the Euro for example, which would therefore also come back every two years. Enough to ensure a permanent show. General applause? Far from it.

→ READ Super League: the insatiable appetite of the big cats of European football

Supporters in particular were quick to draw against the novelty. The Football Supporters Europe (FSE) association split on September 8 in an outraged statement signed by 63 associations around the world. A rapid mobilization, like that of the rebellious supporters, in April 2021, by the European Super League defended by some big clubs – the latter finally backed down under the pressure, in particular from their fans.

Conservative vision

The supporters opposed to reforms and the ultimate defenders of a damaged tradition? “The transformations of football since the 1990s have been done in one direction, with pharaonic transfers that end up blurring the identity of the clubs, leaders in search of profits who, over time, have upset European competitions, notes the sociologist Nicolas Hourcade. From the 2000s, the supporters were structured. Now they want to make their voice heard, by claiming to be the guarantors of popular sport against sport-business. “

Ronan Evain, the FSE coordinator, fully assumes this conservative vision of football: “Football is part of a tradition that structures the lives of supporters and, yes, they tend to want to preserve a certain golden age. But this is not a rancid culture of pure nostalgia. They are aware of the need for reforms, but they do not want to follow the escalation proposed by Fifa or the big clubs. They believe that football can always continue to grow and increase its income. The cake is actually stagnating, and with its biennial World Cup, Fifa is only competing with UEFA and the national championships. “

Sofas against stands

President of the Irrésistibles Français, the main association of supporters of the Blues, and signatory of the appeal of the FSE, Hervé Mougin also protests against this logic of always more: ” What’s the point ? Do we want to burn players more and more at the end of the season with insane schedules? And then how can we promote women’s football for years and suddenly throw it into the shadows with men’s competitions every year that would make it much less visible? Too much football kills football. The worst part is that Fifa claims that the supporters want a World Cup every two years. It’s wrong. We are not consulted! “.

Fifa plays, in fact, the card of the sofa supporter, more than that of the stadiums. “The authorities are based on a public who consume sports shows on television without being really committed, much easier to satisfy”, explains Nicolas Hourcade. However, Fifa claims to want to take the opinion of the fans by the end of 2021. Will they really be able to counter the will of the president of the body Gianni Infantino, a fervent supporter of change? “We may be in a period of change, advance Nicolas Hourcade. Fifa usually imposes its views like a steamroller. But the supporters showed their strength in the Super League episode. If their voice is relayed by other bodies such as UEFA, which also refuses this biennial World Cup, perhaps they can be heard. “

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The return of visitors to European forums

Supporters had long hoped for the lifting of travel bans in Europe for health reasons. This was requested in particular by the FSE association, which benefits from careful listening on the side of the governing body of European football, UEFA. The good news fell on September 6, with UEFA finally allowing outside supporters for its three competitions, although local restrictions may still apply. Three French clubs are traveling for this first round of the group stages: PSG in Bruges on Wednesday September 15, and, in the Europa League, Lyon at Rangers in Glasgow and Marseille at Lokomotiv Moscow on Thursday 16. Also on Thursday, Monaco receives from its side the Austrians from Sturm Graz, and Rennes the English from Tottenham in the Europa League Conference.

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Champions League: Mbappé and PSG win in Barcelona


It will take another “comeback” to FC Barcelona to eliminate Paris SG, after the clear victory at Camp Nou des Parisiens (4-1) with a hat-trick from Mbappé, Tuesday February 16 in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: Champions League, reform of the strongest

A foot in quarters? PSG paid dearly to know that this advantage is not comprehensive insurance. Nobody in both camps forgot the “remountada” of 2017 (4-0, 1-6) at the same stage of the competition, but the champions of France were clearly superior and did everything necessary to slaughter their nemesis.

In an empty Camp Nou, this time, animated by the voices of Catalan and French radio reporters, PSG, even without Neymar or Angel Di Maria, knew, without fear, a late goal, a penalty from Lionel Messi (27e, sp).

Kylian Mbappé has taken on his responsibilities as chief “ghostbuster”. He scored a beautiful goal (32e) as his team pitched, just after the Catalan scoring opener. Then he gave the advantage to his people (65e) and carried the blow (85e), accompanied by Moise Kean (70e). On the day he took the whole stage for a big performance, he finally exceeded his score by just one knockout goal with PSG.

Excellent Verratti

He overtook Pedro Miguel Pauleta (109) with this hat-trick (111 goals) and climbed to the third step of the podium for the club’s top scorers, behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) and Edinson Cavani (200).

Champions League: Mbappé and PSG win in Barcelona

Mbappé was well helped by an excellent Verratti, omnipresent in the role of left piston who did not in any way reduce his recovery activity. It is also a great victory for Mauricio Pochettino, whose 4-3-3 taught Ronald Koeman a lesson. The Argentine coach also had the good idea to come out at the break Idrissa Gana Gueye, warned early (20e) and passed close to a second yellow (43e). Ander Herrera replaced him (46e).

Opposite, Messi was below his level, facing one of the contenders to welcome him next summer. Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé, around him, were too neutral. “Grizou” missed the 2-1 after a 50-meter block (36e), and almost scored when Keylor Navas missed a feint in front of him (82e), but that’s about it for Barca. Gerard Pique, back after two and a half months of injury, suffered against the Parisian trio.

However, the story started badly for PSG, with the penalty for a foul by Layvin Kurzawa on Frenkie de Jong, considered severe by the Parisians but confirmed by the VAR. Groggy, Paris may have seen his Barcelona ghost pass by, but Dembélé missed a break point by hitting too softly in an offering from Messi (29e).

Mbappé, the alarm clock

Then Mbappé sounded the alarm clock, and PSG marched on their opponent. The world champion scored a superb goal, in four delicious movements: deep pass from Marquinhos, suave handover from Kurzawa, love of direct pass from Verratti to leave the final reply to “Kyky”, three subtle mini-checks before a strike under the bar.

Champions League: Mbappé and PSG win in Barcelona

Ter Stegen prevented the closet door from closing too soon on Barça, ahead of Kurzawa (35e) or Kean (37e), but broke in the second half. Mbappé doubled the bet by taking back a good cross from Alessandro Florenzi, then scored the magician’s hat trick on a gap from Julian Draxler, who entered for the last quarter of an hour (73e) instead of Verratti.

Kean headed him on a free kick perfectly shot by Leandro Paredes and where the ghosts were this time in the Barcelona defense. PSG even had opportunities to go to at least six, the fateful figure of the comeback, on a heel from Icardi for Kean (50e), a ladle a little too long from Herrera for Mbappé (55e) or a strike a bit too large from the world champion (68e).

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Football: the Blues, battered against Croatia, win 2-1


France tamed with difficulty Luka Modric and his 6,300 Croatian supporters on Wednesday in Zagreb (2-1), on a late goal from Kylian Mbappé, which allows the Blues to stay up to Portugal, co-leader of group 3 of the Ligue des nations.

Didier Deschamps regretted a lack “Sparks” Sunday against the Portuguese (0-0), he may find comfort in the rediscovered success of his players on the eve of blowing out his 52 candles. The birthday gift was delivered to him one day in advance by his two world champions Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann, already scorers against the same Croats in the 2018 World Cup final (4-2).

33rd goal for Griezmann

However, the victory of the France team was drawn in pain in the Maksimir stadium, the usual playground of Dinamo Zagreb whose initial capacity (35,000 seats) has been reduced since an earthquake in March. . “We must not believe that because we are world champion, we win matches by snapping our fingers”, analyzed Didier Deschamps, emphasizing ” state of mind “ and ” the character “ of its players.

Football: the Blues, battered against Croatia, win 2-1

The Blues thought they would make the match easy after Griezmann’s 33rd goal in the selection, scored after only eight minutes of play, but Vatreni, already beaten in September at the Stade de France (4-2), did not give up.

Experience, thanks to a last sumptuous goal, the Blues have managed to extend their invincibility against the selection to the red and white checkered.

Heavy strike from Griezmann

At the kickoff, Didier Deschamps had chosen to launch Anthony Martial, rather than Olivier Giroud, associating the Manchester United center-forward with Griezmann, of which it was the 40th consecutive selection, and Mbappé, engaged in two days with Paris SG in the league.

→ DEBATE. Can French football go bankrupt?

If Mbappé lit the first wicks, the light came from an overflow of the left-hander Mendy who took speed his vis-à-vis to center with the right foot. His attempt, rejected by the defense, was exploited by Griezmann whose heavy strike shook the crossbar before finding the net (8th).

Football: the Blues, battered against Croatia, win 2-1

In difficulty at Barça, not at his level against Portugal, the N.7 of the Blues celebrated his new offensive efficiency with a little dance.

This did not prevent the Blues from suffering then under the blows of the Croats, determined to finally make their bête noire bite the dust.

Fortunately for the Blues, Mbappé got them out of the rut (79th) on a superb center worthy of a volley, after a long service from Pogba.

→ REPORT. Football: the Blues of Olivier Giroud unfold against Ukraine

The Blues will be able to play a group final on November 14 in Lisbon against Portugal, winner 3-0 over Sweden on Wednesday.

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