SportsNot to the World Cup every two years. Soccer is not...

Not to the World Cup every two years. Soccer is not just money



There has never been so much football. Every day, someone, somewhere, faces someone, and the match can be followed around the world with any device, whether live, on demand, or only the best plays, through YouTube, DAZN or Twitter And there will still be more: soon the Champions League will host an additional 100 games each year. Our collective attention, as the experts call it, dwindles in the process, but it is difficult to stop this trend.

What FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his adviser Arsène Wenger now have in mind could lead to hyperconsumption. They want the World Cup to be held every two years instead of every four. It is very likely that the Eurocup, as well as other continental competitions, will follow that same rhythm at some point, so that, in the future, a major football tournament would be held annually. Until now, there has always been a year-long hiatus in between.

The project has come up against protests from UEFA and many European clubs and associations, as well as fans and some players. In my capacity as director of the Euro 2024 tournament, I join them. Shortening the World Cup cycle will convey the feeling that the only thing that matters in football is money, and big sporting events need patience and time. Both are crucial to its sustainability.

An excess of football would have consequences for the fans. The big tournaments are ingrained in his memory, and they have marked many biographies. The Greeks were able to boast of the title of European champions for four years, from 2004 to 2008; the Portuguese, five, and the Spanish, eight. Between 2014 and 2018, Germany was number one in the world. Picking up the pace would make many experiences and many memories interchangeable. An annual tournament would be like another social network on mobile or like one more live broadcast application.

Too much football would also affect the players. “Facing each other every two years would be psychically exhausting,” thinks Thierry Henry, who competed in seven championships with the French national team, about Infantino’s idea. “I always ended up mentally devastated.” What the footballer means is that playing for a national team is not just any job. It is not played so much for money as for the country and the fans. It carries a lot of responsibility, and it is strenuous. I myself retired from the national team in 2014. It was my sixth championship. I had decided long before, because the double charge is extremely intense. I still played three more years at the club.

A soccer overdose would not leave the sport’s added social value unscathed either. Infantino and Wenger seem to overlook the fact that the two competitive formats differ in essence. The methods of club football are increasingly similar to those of companies. The game is becoming increasingly modular, digital, and abstract. The Champions League is part of the entertainment industry.

The contrast represented by the national teams is therefore even more important. National teams must always remain part of the common good. A World Cup is more than a business. It is the place where everyone gathers. In it, football creates a connection with the people.

For Euro 2024 to be a party and the whole country can enjoy the tournament, the performance of the German team has to be up to par. At the same time, it also poses challenges for us as hosts. Consequently, my team and I are conscientiously preparing various initiatives that go beyond sports competition. For example, we have created a network for amateur and child players. We want to support the clubs to encourage people to volunteer and to increase their membership numbers, as was the case after 2006. The European Championship has to be a catalyst for popular sport. We must not miss this opportunity, because even Germany is only designated to host one tournament in this category every 20 or 30 years.

Euro 2014 GmbH, the joint venture founded by UEFA and the German Football Federation (DFB) to organize the Eurocup, has launched a strategy of social responsibility that fosters the link between the organizers, promoters and the community, with the in order to respond to the ever-increasing demands posed by the protection of the environment. We want to involve citizens in a participatory process; football must return to the center of society. This process constitutes the optimal common denominator from which to debate on diversity, inclusion, participation or equality. This column, which is published in more than 25 countries, pursues the same goal.

And to underline the motto “United for football”, it seemed natural to call Célia Šašić next to me as an equal partner. Célia knows the roots of football and has achieved it all: she has won the Champions League and has been a two-time European champion, as well as top scorer and European footballer of the year. As an ambassador for the Eurocup, you must have your place on the Executive Committee of the German Football Federation, just like me, to take responsibility. The effect of your presence will reach the entire organization and its future. Women and men should enjoy the same rights, although this is not the case everywhere, for example, in football.

A major sporting event requires meticulous preparation, both from an infrastructure and an intellectual point of view. We will talk to many people and negotiate with many institutions. What is soccer? That should be? Where can you go? We will take our time to answer these questions. It takes time if you want to forge something, if you want to bring about a change. This is not possible every two years. Otherwise, the relevance and credibility of the championship will suffer, football will lose its force, and the European Championship will be nothing more than mere entertainment.

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