Over the weekend, reports linked CONMEBOL with the latest proposal for FIFA holding the World Cup every other year. How seriously FIFA decides to take that proposal is an open question, but it does raise a simple issue. If FIFA wants a global Nations League in the even years between World Cups, how is that different from a World Cup? It's CONMEBOL asking.
“The proposal we have made to FIFA is to play the World Cup every two years and not every four,” CONMEBOL president Alejandro Domínguez said. “Instead of having the Nations League in between we can just go ahead every two years and have a World Cup and that is for everyone."
With FIFA pushing for that Global Nations League along with a revamped Club World Cup played during the summer, he's not the only one with that question. The big difference between a Global Nations League and a World Cup is the schedule and location.
The Global Nations League would play out over multiple international windows all over the world. The expectation would be one location hosting the conclusion of the tournament, but it wouldn't be 32 turning to 48 teams playing a tournament over a month in one country. Whether or not that's enough of a difference is what CONMEBOL is now asking.
For FIFA, the response needs to address why a Global Nations League would matter more than the current system. The big threat from FIFA is dropping another tournament into a summer when the European Championship and eventually the Copa America could be on the schedule. It's fixture congestion, something that isn't getting as much attention as it once did from soccer's governing bodies.
Games that count should have a higher risk of injury. They certainly have a higher risk of fatigue, tightening the substitution rules and raising the stakes for all involved. UEFA's battle against the meaningless friendly downplays that, forcing more games that count on players throughout the calendar. World soccer already needs to be talking about less rather than more.
With that in mind, the Nations League movement started by UEFA and picked up by Concacaf might be an answer to a question nobody was seriously asking. Taking it global, something UEFA itself might be doing with potential invites for CONMEBOL teams, underlines the issues of another de facto championship. What's the point when the World Cup already exists?
Also in the soccer news, DeAndre Yedlin's Newcastle United beat Burnley 2-1 on the road. An own-goal put Newcastle up in the 4th minute with Ciaran Clark doubling the lead in the 23rd. Burnley pulled a goal back in the 40th. After 13 games, Newcastle is 13th in the Premier League tied on points with 14th-place West Ham and trailing 12th-place Brighton by three points.
“Especially in an away game, to score early gives the team more confidence and takes off a lot of pressure," Newcastle's Ki Sung-yueng said. "Today, two goals was massive for us. It (allowed) us to control the game. I think we are becoming consistent. Three wins in a row is not easy to achieve, but I think we dealt with every moment we faced, and then, with the ball, I think we were much better and created a lot more chances.”
The Washington Post's Steven Goff reports on the new USL Players Association. USL's press release on recognizing the players union. SBI Soccer's Joe Tansey explains what the Red Bulls got wrong in Atlanta.
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