FIFA is planning a biennial World Cup in order to create more revenue opportunities for the men’s game. Critics say this decision will hurt women’s soccer, as there are only 24 teams competing at any given point and they won’t be able to attract top players because of their reduced exposure.
The “biennial world cup meaning” is a term that has been used for the past two decades. The idea of a biennial World Cup was first introduced in 1996, but it was not implemented until 2006. Since then, FIFA has pushed for a biennial World Cup to be held every other year. This means that there will only be one Women’s World Cup per four years instead of two per five years.
FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, maintain that their proposed biannual World Cup would be beneficial to soccer. The difficulty is that they seem to be referring to the men’s side of the sport when they say that. The women’s game has been treated as an afterthought by FIFA, despite the fact that the biannual World Cup plan may have the greatest influence on it.
First and foremost, let’s define what a biannual World Cup is: If FIFA had its way, there will be a World Cup every year, either for men or for women. As a consequence, there will be unprecedented scheduling congestion, and a men’s World Cup or qualifying for a men’s World Cup will always be on the calendar. When will women’s soccer take center stage, then? Will women’s soccer ever again have the status of being the most visible sport at any particular time?
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FIFA has worked hard to persuade everyone that a biannual World Cup is a good idea, even enlisting the help of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former USWNT manager Jill Ellis (who is currently the president of the NWSL’s San Diego Wave FC). According to the organization’s economic calculations, more frequent World Cups would produce an additional $4.4 billion in only the first four years, resulting in an additional $16 million in solidarity payments each FIFA member nation throughout that time. FIFA also issued a study claiming that the majority of supporters throughout the globe support more frequent men’s and women’s World Cups (63.7 percent of those polled) (52.4 percent ).
But, significantly, FIFA has shown little interest in exploring, at least publicly, how the biannual World Cup plan will push the women’s game out of the mainstream sports scene and weaken the Women’s World Cup.
With more World Cups, there are less opportunities for anything else.
UEFA, which has been a strong opponent of the notion from its inception, conducted its own analysis, estimating that both World Cups would lose viewers if they become a more regular, less-special event, with the Women’s World Cup losing three times as many as the Men’s. After all, under this planned schedule, the Women’s World Cup would always be competing against a huge, well-established men’s event, making it difficult for the women to acquire attention.
Infantino now maintains that under his idea, the men’s Euros will be held every two years instead of every four, which implies that the Women’s World Cup would always be held in the same calendar year as the men’s Euros. But that would be on top of men’s World Cup qualification, which has previously taken UEFA 10 months and CONCACAF more than two years. It would be scheduled with CONMEBOL’s Copa America, which may need to convert to a two-year calendar as well, and biennial tournaments like as the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, the Women’s Euros, which had its highest-ever TV viewership and attendance record last time around in 2017, will almost certainly have to compete for attention with a men’s World Cup. Since a consequence, according to the UEFA analysis, the Women’s Euros’ income may be slashed in half, as broadcast rights and sponsorships would lose substantial value. The development of a high-level women’s competition with enormous potential would be strangled immediately.
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Instead, FIFA just wants to raise the amount of money that nations must spend in order to qualify for and play in a Women’s World Cup without providing any extra incentive to do so. Some people may not even bother. If federations can get away with solely worrying about their men’s team, they will typically do so.
In 2019, the Nigerian women’s national team staged a sit-in in protest over unpaid incentives due by the federation. After years of complaints, several Brazilian women departed in 2019 to protest their federation’s lack of support. In 2015, the Australian women’s team went on strike to demand that their federation pay them more money. In 2018, players from Trinidad and Tobago pleaded for funds on social media to participate in their own World Cup qualifiers. And so on.
Consider Jamaica’s qualification for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which happened only after Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s daughter, invested her own money to restore the squad after the organization quit sponsoring it. To be sure, it was packaged as a success for the Reggae Girlz, but it was also a failure for a system that permits federations to disregard women’s programming.
The United States was chastised for their 13-0 victory against Thailand in the Women’s World Cup, although the problem was not theirs. It all comes down to FIFA’s refusal to require investment in women’s national teams. Getty Images/Catherine Steenkeste
FIFA could motivate federations to care more about the Women’s World Cup by considerably raising prize money for all participants, but they’ve so far refused, despite no apparent reason.
FIFA awarded 13 times more prize money for the men’s tournament than the women’s tournament during the last World Cup cycle, but it can’t explain why 13 times. The men’s World Cup doesn’t bring in 13 times as much money as the women’s World Cup because media rights and sponsorships for both tournaments have always been offered as a package, and FIFA never tried to figure out how much the women’s event was worth when allocating prize money. The men’s World Cup does not get 13 times as many television viewers as the women’s World Cup does; in fact, it only draws roughly 4 times as many. The men’s World Cup does not sell 13 times as many tickets as the women’s World Cup.
In reality, while FIFA quadrupled the prize money for the Women’s World Cup from 2015 to 2019, it simultaneously boosted the prize money for the men’s tournament by such a large amount that the disparity between the men’s and women’s tournaments widened, not narrowed. Given the women’s tournament’s recent record-breaking expansion, the gap seems to be closing.
Unless you consider the notion that FIFA doesn’t care as much about women’s soccer as it claims, it’s difficult to understand FIFA’s reasoning in widening the disparity. After years of treating the women’s game as a secondary issue, it’s difficult to give FIFA the benefit of the doubt.
Women’s soccer has had to put up with treatment from FIFA that the men’s game has not, from artificial grass at a World Cup to statements from a previous FIFA president that tighter shorts for women may help expand the sport, to an apparent lack of funding. This concept for a biannual World Cup, which glosses over the possible detrimental effect on the women’s game, is unfortunately only the latest example.
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FIFA’s push for a biennial World Cup hurts the women’s game. FIFA is changing its rules to allow for a biennial World Cup, which will make it harder for the women’s game to develop. Reference: fifa changing world cup.
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