Arsene Wenger urges fans ‘do not be scared of biennial World Cup’ ahead of key summit on controversial plan

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 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger has urged fans “not to be scared” of change as he continues to make the case for a biennial World Cup.

Moving FIFA’s showpiece tournament from a four-year cycle to being held every two years is one of the former Arsenal manager’s raft of changes he is planning as the organisation’s chief of global football development.

It is the idea of doubling the number of World Cups that has attracted huge criticism from leading figures in European and South American football - something he claims is down to a generational gap.

He told Rio Ferdinand on the former England defender's FIVE YouTube channel: "What I'm quite surprised [by is that] in a society which is anti-discriminatory, if you ask someone in the street whether a women's World Cup every two years is good, they say, 'Yes, fantastic, it will develop the women's game'.

"Why is it bad for men then? That shows that the reluctance is basically emotional. We have all grown up in that cycle of [a World Cup] every four years and we want to keep it as it is.

"We see the split in our polls: the younger generations are in favour, the generations over 50 are against.

"We don't have to be scared. The modern guy who watches football is knowledgeable, he's demanding, he tests the quality of what he watches.

"There is a demand for quality, people today are knowledgeable and informed. We have the responsibility to give them top quality."

YouGov research commissioned by FIFA and conducted in July found the most popular choice in each age group surveyed was to retain the status quo of World Cups every four years, but that it had the lowest level of support in the 18 to 24 group - 37 per cent compared to 58 per cent in the over-55s.

FIFA Congress voted in favour of conducting a feasibility study to look at biennial men's and women's World Cups in May after a proposal from the Saudi Arabian federation.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

An online summit is due to take place on December 20 featuring the 211 member associations of FIFA, each of which will hold an equal vote if put to a ballot with smaller nations expected to be in favour.

The world governing body's president, Gianni Infantino, says he hopes a consensus position can be presented to the associations at that meeting.

He described himself as a "referee" in the fierce calendar debate last month, adding: "What I can assure you is that we will go ahead only if everyone is better off.

"I believe that we can come up with something that makes sense and something everyone can be happy [with]. Trying to find the bridge between all these different positions, is our challenge, but it's also our ambition."

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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