By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Soccer’s World Cup could be staged every two years if a controversial proposal by the president of the sport’s governing body, FIFA, is accepted at a meeting later this month.
In a revolutionary move, Sepp Blatter has come up with a plan to play soccer’s biggest competition on a biennial basis rather than every four years, as has been the tradition.
If Blatter’s proposal is adopted, then it would effectively mean the scrapping of tournaments such as the European championships and the African Nations Cup, which would be reduced to mere qualifying competitions for the World Cup.
"I want soccer’s world championship held every two years," said Blatter. "Then the national teams will get the rankings they deserve. The existing four-year tournament is out of date. It dates from the 1930s when teams chugged from one continent to another on ships."
Seen as a preemptive move to head off major clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona and AC Milan, who are planning a European Super League, Blatter appears to be forcing a choice between club and country.
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"I am demanding a clear statement," he said. "Do we want national teams or do we want club football?"
However, the plan is likely to be voted down when FIFA meets in Cape Town, South Africa, on Jan. 27.
Former World Cup winner Bobby Charlton was not impressed by the idea of a biennial tournament.
"When a proposal comes from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, you have to take it seriously, but I don’t see how it could work," Charlton said. "There won’t be enough time for teams to qualify. A World Cup every two years wouldn’t have the same attraction and that would be very sad."