IOC refuses to enter debate over future World Cup finals clashing with Olympics

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said he would not add “fuel to the fire” by commenting on plans to play World Cups in the same summer as an Olympic Games.

FIFA is in consultation with stakeholders in the game over plans to shorten the gap between its showcase event from four years to two.

Changing the cycle from 2028 would mean a clash with summer Olympic Games from Los Angeles onwards.

A number of associations and former players have expressed their support for the change, but UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and the World Leagues Forum have criticised the plans.

Asked whether sponsors would find it impossible to support a World Cup and an Olympic Games sharing the same summer, Bach said following an IOC executive board meeting on Wednesday: “You know the facts you’re describing are very clear and they have been made by different participants in the discussion.

“So I will not put fuel on the fire. Later, these discussions evolve. The consequences or potential consequences are becoming clearer day by day thanks to the discussion within FIFA and in particular through the contributions of continental associations.

“We are closely monitoring these discussions, and find them very interesting.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he hopes that the consultation is complete to allow the world governing body’s member associations to make a decision by the end of the year.

In quotes on FIFA.com, the Swiss said: “The current match calendar shows us that we have reached some limits.

“The release period for national team football – exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation, shows us how difficult it is today for players to travel from one country to another, from one continent to another, to start the season typical in Europe and then to stop and play for the national team and then travel across continents and time zones to play for their club again.

“It’s not good for the health of the players and it’s not good for the health of the competitions.

“This global process is exhaustive, extensive and is a sign of respect from FIFA to the entire world. We hope to finalise it by the end of this year so we can look to the future, as the existing [men’s] international match calendar ends in 2024.”

Infantino insisted fans, who he described as the “soul of football” were being listened to in the consultation process, which was started following a request by the Saudi Arabian federation in May.

The World Leagues Forum expressed its concern at the plans in a statement on Wednesday.

“The World Cup is a symbolic and unique sporting event,” the statement began.

“FIFA’s leadership cannot be able to turn something exceptional into a commonplace event purely to serve their short-term interests.

“A biennial World Cup would negatively disrupt the football economy and undermine players’ welfare in a calendar that is already overloaded.

“As the employers of players and developers of the game at domestic level, leagues request full and transparent discussions so that the football calendar, which requires a complementary balance between club matches and national teams, can be agreed upon by all parties involved to benefit the game at all levels over the long term.

“Working together with all football stakeholders, the World Leagues Forum will ensure FIFA is not allowed to make unilateral decisions on the future of football against the interests of leagues, clubs, players and fans.”

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