The International Olympic Committee said it had “concerns” about FIFA’s bid for the biennial soccer World Cup. (more sports news)
Although IOC President Thomas Bach said last month “we will not interfere in this discussion”, his organization stepped in on Saturday after its meeting in Athens to detail the objections it shares with football stakeholders.
The IOC’s statement after the Executive Board meeting was cited as scheduling clashes with other sports, the overshadowing of the men’s World Cup over the women’s versions of the tournament, and “other massive pressures” on the well-being of athletes.
In its statement, the IOC did not indicate possible future confrontations between the World Cup and the Olympic Games – possibly as soon as 2028 when Los Angeles hosts the Summer Games.
The IOC criticized FIFA’s tactics in promoting the biennial World Cup project by noting that broader consultation across football “clearly did not happen”.
FIFA revealed its detailed plan last month, after meeting with retired players, to reformulate the schedule of international football competitions with the men’s and women’s World Cup every two years.
The strongly backed proposal was announced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino before the member associations were formally consulted in the World Cup strongholds of Europe and South America.
Those regions’ governing bodies, UEFA and CONMEBOL, have warned of a World Cup boycott if FIFA pushes forward with a plan that would undermine their continental tournaments, which are being staged on the same four-year cycle as the IOC Summer Games. All due in 2024.
The IOC cited “tennis, cycling, golf, gymnastics, swimming, athletics, Formula 1, and many more” as sports that will be affected by more World Cups.
“This would undermine the diversity and development of sports other than football,” the Olympic body said.
FIFA, whose next World Cup finals will be held in 2022 and 2026, has not specified a desire to stay in even-numbered years in the men’s World Cup every two years. A shift to odd years can be proposed, perhaps starting in 2029.
In an Olympic briefing after the executive board meeting, spokesman Mark Adams was asked if Infantino, an IOC member, had spoken with Bach about the plan for the biennial World Cup before it was announced.
Adams said he could not provide details even though the IOC has been in contact with the sport’s regulators.
When asked last month about FIFA’s plans at a press conference for the International Olympic Committee, Bach suggested that “the contributions of the confederations” – such as UEFA and CONMEBOL – clarify matters.
FIFA has not set an official date for a decision on its World Cup proposal, although it has suggested holding a meeting of its 211 members in December.