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‘Fans support back frequent tournaments’

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A majority of fans would support a men’s World Cup more frequently than every four years, according to a survey commissioned by world football governing body Fifa.

A biennial tournament is part of Fifa’s plans for a revamped football calendar.

European governing body Uefa and Europe’s major leagues have already declared their opposition to the plans.

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But Fifa says the proposals have global support, particularly among younger fans in “developing markets”.

It used polling company YouGov to commission a poll involving 23,000 people in 23 countries, across the organisation’s six confederations.

Of those, 15,000 respondents “were identified as expressing an interest in football and the Fifa World Cup”, with 55 percent in favour of a World Cup every one, two or three years.

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Of those three options, a biennial tournament was the most popular.

However, the most popular answer across all age groups was to maintain the status quo of holding the event every four years.

“There are considerable differences between the so-called traditional markets and the developing football markets; and younger generations in all regions are more open and interested in change than older generations,” Fifa said in a statement.

The governing body added that an expanded survey involving 100,000 people in more than 100 countries is under way.

Fifa launched a feasibility study into a biennial men’s and women’s World Cup following a proposal from the Saudi Arabian football federation in May.

The consultation process is being led by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who is Fifa’s head of global football development.

He believes the current four-year cycle is outdated and that a biennial World Cup with shorter qualification stages would actually reduce the amount of matches players are expected to play.

He also thinks it would offer better opportunities to players from smaller nations, and generate more revenues that could be invested globally in the game.—BBC

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