204 FIFA (FIFA.com) member associations and 32 FIFA Council members receive update and provide feedback in relation to the future of football; Arsène Wenger and Jill Ellis offer detailed proposals at online summit to address ongoing international match calendar issues and to present proposals for global youth tournaments; Current international match calendars for women’s and men’s football expire in 2023 and 2024 respectively.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has stated that FIFA is undertaking the “most inclusive and thorough consultation process that the world of football has ever seen on a global basis” during the first FIFA member associations online summit to address the need for reforms to the current international match calendars (IMC) as mandated by the 71st FIFA Congress in May 2021.
The summit, which included detailed presentations from FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winning coach Jill Ellis, who has assumed the role of FIFA Technical Advisory Group leader for women’s football, provided the platform for FIFA member associations to share their views as part of the ongoing consultation in relation to the future IMC.
The IMC sets the dates of national team matches and the days in which the players must be released by their clubs to join international squads. It therefore has a central role in the sustainable growth of football in all regions of the world and at all levels.
We want to adopt a holistic approach with a global approach to this project
“This first summit was an important step in the consultation process, because it provided both FIFA Council members and over 200 FIFA member associations with the opportunity to make proposals, to ask questions and to debate issues in an open and transparent way,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino after the four-hour meeting. “We want to adopt a holistic approach with a global approach to this project. FIFA has one event that lasts one month every four years that is helping to develop football in 211 member associations and the other FIFA competitions. FIFA has ambitions for football development across the entire world, but these can only be realised if we have more successful events taking place on a more regular basis. The new FIFA is open for this type of dialogue as we strive to find the best possible solution for women’s, men’s and youth football going forward, both in terms of international match calendar and final tournaments reform.”
The FIFA President outlined the timeline of the consultation process, which kicked off in a first phase with football players and coaches, and has now moved into a second phase involving member associations, confederations and stakeholders, especially fans. Subsequently, a comprehensive report will be published in November 2021 before a global summit will be staged before the end of the year.
“We have the opportunity to shape football history, to look forward, to learn from the past, and to design the future because our vision is to make football truly global,” the FIFA President added. “But we will only make changes if it benefits everyone. No-one should be a loser in this, everyone should be better off at the end of the day. Otherwise there is no reason to change anything, if the global world of football and everyone in it is not better off. We are aware of the different challenges that this brings.”
Arsène Wenger outlined his proposals in relation to the men’s international match calendar, stressing his desire to make football better. “It is an audacious proposal for the future of men’s football, and it follows four main principles, namely regrouping national team qualifying matches, reducing travel for players, creating more space for meaningful matches and final tournaments, and ensuring a mandatory rest period for players between seasons,” the FIFA Chief of Global Football Development said.
“Challenges with the right mindset can create opportunities,” said Jill Ellis, who presented her vision in relation to the potential redevelopment of the women’s international match calendar. “We have issues in both national team football and club football that require substantial change. Our focus is on providing more balanced playing opportunities at national team level across the world, and to find better solutions in moving club football forward. Therefore, included in our proposed solution would be the opportunity to change the frequency of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and continental tournaments in order to create a much bigger platform for women’s football.”
Arsène Wenger also outlined two proposals for the future of FIFA’s youth competitions, with a standard approach for boys’ and girls’ tournaments. The first option presented includes an annual U17 tournament for 48 teams, and a biennial U20 tournament for 24 teams, while second option considers the scheduling of annual U16 and U18 tournaments for 48 teams, and a biennial U20 tournament for 24 teams.
The FIFA President concluded the meeting by thanking the FIFA Vice-Presidents, the FIFA Council members and the FIFA member associations’ representatives for their attention and their constructive contribution to the online summit.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FIFA.