FIFA study shows fans want more frequent men’s and women’s World Cups

Nearly 64% of fans who said football was their favourite sport voted for more frequent FIFA World Cups.

FIFA World Cup

In May, 166 member associations voted for a feasibility study on a biennial FIFA World Cup and, since July, surveys involving more than 100,000 people from 140 countries have taken place.   -  Getty Images

FIFA, the global governing body of world football, published the results of an expanded survey regarding the frequency of the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups. Nearly 64% of fans who said football was their favourite sport voted for more frequent World Cups.

The survey, which was held from August to November 2021, is part of a wider consultation process with all stakeholders in the game. In May, 166 member associations voted for a feasibility study on a biennial FIFA World Cup and, since July, surveys involving more than 100,000 people from 140 countries have taken place.

The idea, that has been strongly pushed by FIFA president Gianni Ifantino and FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger, was met with widespread criticism but the study shows that fans would prefer more frequent World Cups.

Approximately 77,000 people were asked if they would watch the FIFA World Cup more frequently, for example every two years, provided that player workload does not increase. Of the 30,390 people who said football was their favourite sport, 63.7% of them wanted a more frequent men’s FIFA World Cup, while 52.4% of fans said they would like to see a more frequent FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Asian football fans were the most in favour for frequent World Cup, with Indian football making their voices heard. As many as 85% of them wanted more frequent men's World Cups, while 81.7% of them voted for biennial women's World Cups.

“This has been one of the most comprehensive global sports market research studies ever conducted and the broadest,” said IRIS CEO Peter Weber of the survey, which included the use of market‑leading global panel providers such as YouGov, Dynata and CINT. “FIFA asked us to perform a study that was global in scope and respondents were drawn from a broadly representative number of member associations.”

- What they said -

Wenger, who has led this movement, said back in September that the plan to double the number of World Cups by holding the tournament every two years had received a "very positive response".

"Overall, I think I have got a very positive response, but this decision is a democratic decision and will be made certainly by the 211 countries who are affiliated to FIFA. I think that we continue to consult people," Wenger had said.

"I'm not hesitant at all. I'm 100% convinced that what I propose is the right solution for the modern way to organise football. If people have better ideas, I'm open to it and I welcome every idea that is better than mine," he said.

"I will not vote. I just make a proposal that I think will improve things and make life better for everybody, but especially make football better. That is my main target is not guided by anything else," he added.

Among the many who spoke against the plan was La Liga president Javier Tebas, who felt it would hamper the traditions of world football.

"A biennial World Cup is a threat not just to domestic football leagues but to the overall tradition of world football," he said.

"It would require a reshuffle of the calendar that would disrupt the domestic leagues to the extend that interest would be lost and the continuity is jeopardised.This would have a cascading effect on the entire football pyramid, with fans losing interest in the sport. New competitions or playing more often will not help grow football, to the contrary.

"A biennial World Cup would worsen what we have today and not allow those who can to build and improve," added Tebas.

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