EVERY four years, life stands still as the greatest show on earth – the football World Cup – unfolds.
After a month of drama, tension and joy, a record 3.6billion people – half the planet’s population – watched the 2018 final between France and Croatia.
Fifa want to stage the World Cup every two years insteadCredit: PA:Press Association
Billions around the world tuned in to watch England and other countries playCredit: Getty
Now moneybags organisers Fifa want to change it from 2026.
Led by their chief of global football development, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, they want to stage the tournament every two years instead.
It left many fans wondering whether, even for the World Cup, you can get too much of a good thing.
England manager Gareth Southgate has revealed he is “open-minded” about the proposal.
But Gareth Bale, the Wales forward, is not keen.
“I like the tradition of every four years,” he said.
“It has the prestige, like the Olympics, coming around every four years.”
And Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets said decision-makers “do not care enough about the players”.
So is Wenger’s plan a work of genius or will it ruin the magic of the cup?
Here, The Sun’s Head of Sport Shaun Custis and England goalkeeping legend Peter Shilton argue for and against the divisive proposal.
YES, let’s get on with it. As Alan Partridge might say: “Back of the net.”
A World Cup every two years gets my vote for one big reason – there will be more meaningful, competitive England matches and less of the nonsense we had to suffer at the weekend.
Shaun says: ‘A World Cup every two years gets my vote for one big reason – there will be more meaningful, competitive England matches and less of the nonsense we had to suffer at the weekend’Credit: The Sun
We’ve had to put up with one-sided games against the likes of Andorra in qualifying campaigns for far too long.
Part of the biennial World Cup plan is that the minnows will have to pre-qualify to earn the right to mix it with the big boys, and that’s how it should be.
There would also be fewer friendlies where nobody is the slightest bit interested in the result. Hurrah to that.
Over the past three years we’ve had a World Cup, a Euros and two extremely competitive Nations League competitions which have whetted the appetite for proper games – and no more of those glorified kickabouts.
Whatever football supporters say about how they love their club far more than England, when the major tournaments come round they pack the pubs and the fan parks (Covid permitting) and scream themselves hoarse for the national team.
Arsenal loyalists cheer on Harry Kane, Manchester United supporters hail Raheem Sterling.
They don’t like to admit it but they do. And while Uefa is raging against the idea, watch them go for a Euros every two years too if the World Cup plan succeeds.
Then we’ll have a high-profile competition every year – happy days.
You could have put your house on the top European clubs kicking up an almighty stink.
They claim all this will affect players’ welfare but that’s a smokescreen.
What they are really upset about it is the effect on their lucrative pre-season tours, because players will have to get time off after the World Cup.
They don’t care much about welfare when they are dragging their stars half- way around the world to fulfil sponsors’ demands.
The mastermind behind the plan is ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, now Fifa’s head of global football development.
Mind you, when he was Arsenal boss he never stopped moaning when any of his players were away on international duty and came back late or injured.
The poacher has truly turned gamekeeper and is making no apologies for it.
So here’s to England winning the 2028 World Cup – after we’ve won it in 2022 and 2026, of course!
WHEN I first heard talk of holding the World Cup every two years I thought it was a wind-up
But former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and football’s governing body are serious about the idea.
Peter Shilton says: ‘I played in three World Cups for England and it is the ultimate moment in your career’Credit: Louis Wood News Group Newspapers Ltd
The World Cup is already the biggest tournament in sport, so there is no need to make it any bigger.
Lifting the golden trophy is what every football player dreams of.
As a young player, my ambition was to represent my country on the biggest stage.
I played in three World Cups for England and it is the ultimate moment in your career.
You know the chance has to be grabbed because it doesn’t come round very often – and that adds to the incredible tension every time the ball comes close to the goal.
If you get knocked out, you may never get another chance.
Making it a biennial event would reduce the fervour and devalue this clash of nations.
As a player I would be totally against it.
Top-class footballers are playing almost the whole year round as it stands.
The domestic game just keeps expanding with more and more competitions, leading to more injuries.
How will they squeeze in twice as many World Cups? It doesn’t sound workable.
The Euros is very special, as we saw this summer, so that shouldn’t be shoved to one side
There needs to be ample time to qualify for both the World Cup and Euros and build up excitement around these events.
I can see the point of the lowest-ranked teams such as Andorra having pre-qualifying games for World Cup qualifiers because they have no chance of reaching the finals.
But that should be introduced to the current four-year schedule.
Generally, fiddling with formats produces no clear benefit to fans and is instead about money.
Doubling the number of big tournaments is an idea too far.
We shouldn’t be fixing something that isn’t broken.
The current system is perfect.
We are in danger of reaching a saturation point and need to realise you can have too much of a great thing.