Except that this bad idea is not a new one at all. Blatter first proposed it in an interview with the Sunday edition of the Swiss tabloid SonntagsBlick back in 1999. The European Championship should also be staged every two years, he added, serving at the same time as a qualifying tournament for the next World Cup. Blatter claimed to have already informed FIFA's Executive Committee, which was in the process of setting up study groups to further explore the issue.
Not true, an unnamed FIFA vice president at the time told the German news agency dpa. Blatter was acting like a "lone wolf," they said, just like his autocratic predecessor, the chronically corrupt Joao Havelange. Europe's soccer governing body UEFA was also in the dark. "We're surprised that Mr. Blatter has not informed us about this before going public," an official told German daily Die Welt. The idea was promptly written off as another one of Blatter's random, blank-brained pre-breakfast notions, and thankfully forgotten.
Until now, that is, with Infantino's revival of this unnecessary, lame and already discredited attempt to double FIFA's income from the world's most popular sporting event. Having failed to sell FIFA's future to a shady consortium of financial concerns for $25 billion in 2018 (he met internal resistance to this disgraceful plan when he twice tried to ram it through FIFA Council meetings in Bogota and Kigali), Infantino has blown the dust off Blatter's Portfolio of Folly and cheerfully tried to persuade the world that a biennial World Cup is not just a great idea, but that pretty much everyone in our joyful, united soccer world already backs it.
In an audacious and nigh-on slapstick press release earlier this month, headlined "Majority of fans favor more frequent men's FIFA World Cups – global survey," Infantino's press underlings informed us that an "online survey" taken during July had shown that, among 15,000 people in 23 unspecified nations, "the majority of fans would like to see a more frequent men's FIFA World Cup." And that, "of this majority, the preferred frequency is biennial." In fact, of those polled the number in favor of a biennial World Cup was 30 percent. Eleven percent of those surveyed wanted a World Cup every year, 14 percent every three years, and the most popular choice was to keep the tournament taking place every four years -- 45 pecent. But you have to dig deep into FIFA's web site to find that stat.
There were two interesting but unquantified claims at the end of FIFA's press release. The first was that "there are considerable differences [in opinion] between the so-called traditional markets and the developing football markets," and the second was that "younger generations in all regions are more open and interested in change than older generations." As well as presenting slanted stats, FIFA's making sly and subjective suggestions that only old and outdated conservatives are resisting brave, bold FIFA's thrust toward change, progress and innovation.
Fortunately, there is resistance from other quarters to further over-crowding the soccer calendar and demeaning the value of a great event. The world's sporting press is more or less unanimous in its opposition, and didn't take kindly to having its intelligence insulted by FIFA's media relations department. UEFA is no more impressed with the idea than it was 22 years ago after Blatter's first dunder-headed flush of inspiration. And the powerful, perennially self-interested European Club Association will grant no ground in giving up its valuable and over-taxed players to even more -- already bloated -- international tournaments.
In one respect, FIFA is right - the International federation Match Calendar needs reforming and improving. You can make your suggestions here. Whether Infantino's FIFA can be trusted to collate the results and present them in an honest and transparent manner is another question. No matter what your view, though, the least you can do is to let them know how you feel.