THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

FIFA reform plans for the worldwide match calendar: DFB presidium stands firmly by UEFA

Deutscher Fußball-Bund (DFB)

At its meeting on 17 September 2021, and still having to rely on media reports as the only source of information, the DFB Presidium discussed the proposal for a complete revision of the international competition calendar and the associated staging of the FIFA World Cup every two years, which was presented to the “FIFA legends” and selected journalists in Doha on 9 September 2021.

As a result of the discussion, the DFB Presidium has issued the following statement:

The DFB fully supports UEFA’s position that a decision on such an important matter cannot be taken without the consent of the European associations and European football. The DFB finds it incomprehensible that FIFA’s top management, contrary to all principles of Good Governance, chose to present the proposal to the “FIFA legends” and spread news of the meeting to the media rather than consulting the members of its own Council first.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin consequently wrote to FIFA President Gianni Infantino on 14 September 2021 asking him to convoke a meeting with UEFA and its European member associations as soon as possible. This is absolutely necessary for them to get acquainted with FIFA’s proposals in detail, as well as to inform FIFA of the serious concerns and the potential effects of the reform proposals on the European associations and European football as a whole.

The DFB, like all other European national associations, leagues, and clubs, would be seriously impacted by the reform models apparently discussed in Doha. Changing the current four-year World Cup cycle to a biennial format and drastically reducing release periods for national teams would be a major blow to football in Germany, in Europe, but also worldwide.

In fact, the DFB finds it impossible to relate to the statement made by FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura in her letter of 15 September 2021 promising that FIFA’s plans, as published in the media, would “provide for more interesting matches, offer teams around the world more opportunities and possibilities, and technically shape the game in such a way that it will equally serve the interests of all”.

As shown below, this is unlikely to be the case – at least for the European national associations organised in UEFA, their leagues, and clubs:
• if every summer either a men’s World Cup or European Championship were to take place, the women’s and junior national teams’ tournaments would be eclipsed by the men’s competitions. Furthermore, this effect would be drastically intensified if the release periods were shortened, because these competitions (e.g. the European Under-21 Championships) would then have to take place at the same time as the World or European Championships of the senior national teams;
• with a major tournament (alternating between the World Cup and the Euros) taking place every year and a one-month release period in October, the physical and mental strain on national team players would be immense and would lead to a significantly increased risk of injury;
• the very significance of the major tournaments would be diminished as both the World Cup and the Euros derive their appeal and value not least from their rarity;
• the central marketing of the European national team competitions by UEFA has so far guaranteed the national associations financial security, stability, and sustainability. This would be greatly jeopardised by such a serious change in the international match calendar with a single, longer release period;
• any immediate radical change of the worldwide match calendar would collide with the long-term contracts concluded between the DFB and UEFA.

The above points and many other issues require detailed examination and discussion as soon as possible. Just like UEFA, the DFB has been committed to solidarity in partnership and global support projects for decades. For this very reason, the DFB expects FIFA to take into account, and pay particular attention to, the specific interests of the European national associations.