Friday’s soccer news starts with the Premier League joining those expressing serious concerns over FIFA’s proposed revamps to the international soccer calendar. FIFA’s plan would replace the multiple international windows with either one lasting the month of October or two with an additional window in March. The idea is to minimize the amount of travel required for players and disruption to club schedules under FIFA’s other proposal of a biennial World Cup.
The plan has led to multiple groups in European soccer questioning both proposals and asking why the current model needs such significant disruption. That now includes the Premier League.
“The Premier League is committed to preventing any radical changes to the post-2024 FIFA International Match Calendar that would adversely affect player welfare and threaten the competitiveness, calendar, structures and traditions of domestic football,” Premier League CEO Richard Masters said in a press statement. “We are open to reforms and new ideas, but they must enhance the complementary balance between domestic and international football in order to improve the game at all levels. This process should also involve meaningful agreements with the leagues that provide the foundations for the game.”
Any changes to the calendar would happen after 2024. FIFA has not called an extraordinary congress in December to bring the plans to a vote. Instead, they’ll hold a “global summit.”
“Everyone should have their voice heard, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last month. “And precisely through the consultation process, I have discovered that many stakeholders have never had the opportunity to discuss this topic properly. This consultation process is addressing that, and we will continue with the objective of reaching a consensus with solutions that work for everyone’s benefit. By hosting a global summit later this year, we will now have the opportunity to present one plan and to provide feedback to all our FIFA member associations.”
It’s worth distinguishing between opposing a radical overhaul while still seeing the need to rework the international calendar. Where that discussion may lead could quickly become the question for stakeholders in an expanded World Cup era. The scope of qualifying will undoubtedly change with a 48-team World Cup, potentially altering the calendar. Part of FIFA’s proposed revamp is the idea that all of a World Cup qualifying cycle would fit in that October window.
Moving to the soccer news, The Washington Post’s Steven Goff with how USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter will use Christian Pulisic. SI’s Brian Straus on a different version of the USMNT due to player availability. Goal’s Ryan Tomlich looks at Berhalter’s decision-making. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio puts USA vs Mexico into context. Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell asks what will happen with USA vs Mexico in future qualifying cycles. Marca’s Alejandro Segura explains Barcelona’s January transfer strategy. The NY Times’ Rory Smith works through what is happening with Uruguay in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.
WEEKEND SOCCER TV
Saturday has World Cup qualifying on TUDN: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Finland at 9am, Norway vs Latvia at 12pm, and France vs Kazakhstan at 2:45pm. Sunday has World Cup qualifying on TUDN: Croatia vs Russia at 9am, Armenia vs Germany at 12pm, and Spain vs Sweden at 2:45pm. Monday has World Cup qualifying on TUDN: Northern Ireland vs Italy at 2:45pm. All Times Eastern
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