Euro­pean Leagues op­posed to tour­na­ments’ ex­pan­sion plans

Global Times - - Sports -

Top leagues across Eu­rope are op­posed to FIFA’s ex­pan­sion plans for the 2022 World Cup and fu­ture edi­tions of the Club World Cup, Euro­pean Leagues Pres­i­dent Lars-Chris­ter Olsson has said.

FIFA plans to ex­pand the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 for the 2026 tour­na­ment, but the global gov­ern­ing body’s Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino has said he was open to in­tro­duc­ing the pro­posal at the 2022 fi­nals in Qatar.

The Euro­pean Leagues, an um­brella group for 32 pro­fes­sional leagues and as­so­ci­a­tions from 25 Euro­pean coun­tries, is against the pro­posed ex­pan­sion, which would add ex­tra days and matches to the event.

“We are not pre­pared to make any changes on the cal­en­dar for ex­pand­ing the 2022 World Cup,” Olsson told The Times in Britain.

“We have al­ready been flex­i­ble to al­low the World Cup to be played in the win­ter and have agreed the dates, and we are not pre­pared for the du­ra­tion of the World Cup to be any longer.”

In 2015, FIFA an­nounced that the 2022 World Cup would be staged in the last two months of the year in an ef­fort to avoid is­sues aris­ing from the ex­treme heat in Qatar dur­ing June-July, forc­ing most leagues to heav­ily ad­just their cal­en­dars.

World soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body is likely to de­cide on the ex­pan­sion plan for the 2022 tour­na­ment dur­ing the next FIFA Congress in June.

In­fantino also pre­vi­ously said that sev­eral com­pa­nies were in­ter­ested in ex­pand­ing the Club World Cup from its cur­rent eight-team for­mat to a grander 24team event.

“There is also talk about ex­pand­ing the Club World Cup and we have se­ri­ous reser­va­tions about that too,” Olsson added.

“FIFA seems to be on an ex­pan­sion drive. It’s time peo­ple thought about the play­ers – they need time to rest. It can­not just be money de­cid­ing how foot­ball should be or­ga­nized.”

The 2022 World Cup will be held from Novem­ber 21 to De­cem­ber 18, while the Club World Cup has been an an­nual event since 2005.

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