FIFA president Gianni Infantino has reinforced plans to hold the Women’s World Cup every two years in order to grow the sport by differentiating it from the men’s game.
The Women’s World Cup currently follows the same cycle as the men’s tournament by being played every four years. It traditionally falls on odd years and is held the year after the men’s tournament.
Infantino first revealed football’s international governing body were considering switching the women’s tournament to every two years in December 2019, but despite being met with initial scepticism, the FIFA president reinforced the plans at the FIFA annual congress .
“Last year we saw the most beautiful Women’s World Cup in history,” said Infantino [as quoted by the Guardian]. “With 260 million viewers more people watched the final than the Superbowl. Technically and tactically, it was a feast for the eyes.
“But [to grow the game further] we don’t want to copy what the men are doing. We want something specific for the women’s game. We need to think about different suggestions.
“Finals between confederations, [finals] on a continental level every two years, maybe even a World Cup every two years rather than four. To have a Club World Cup for the women’s game. We need to think about it, we need to get those creative juices flowing.”
The idea of playing the World Cup every other year has attracted a whole host of criticism. Doing so risks diluting the product and could potentially lead to World Cup success being less special, as countries effectively have double the opportunity to win the competition.
Additionally, only the very best women’s teams are properly funded, and although things have improved drastically over the last five years, there is still a huge gulf between the top sides and the teams still developing – as demonstrated by the USA’s 13-0 thrashing of Thailand at last year’s tournament.
Whether every competing country would be able to contend with qualifiers twice as often remains to be seen, and could result in the gulf in class widening once more.