HomeArsene Wenger defends FIFA's Club World Cup expansion plans

Arsene Wenger defends FIFA’s Club World Cup expansion plans


Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has defended FIFA’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup, saying the 32-team tournament will help to make football “really global”.

FIFA’s plans for a 32-team Club World Cup, to be held every four years at the end of the European club season, have been fiercely criticised.

Ahead of Manchester City’s Club World Cup campaign in Saudi Arabia this week, Pep Guardiola expressed concern that the tournament would have an adverse effect on player welfare.

Global players’ union FIFPRO, meanwhile, has said the plans show “a lack of consideration for the mental and physical health of participating players”.

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The first edition of the tournament under the expanded format is set to take place in the United States between June and July 2025, with City, Chelsea and Real Madrid set to take three of the 12 spots reserved for European teams.

Wenger, who now serves as FIFA’s chief of global football development, defended the expansion on Tuesday, claiming it will help clubs outside Europe compete financially.

“The positive impact this will have on clubs is going to be huge, because it will increase resources for clubs all over the world to develop and to compete,” Wenger said.

“In Europe we are lucky, but it’s important that we make football really global and this creates a chance for other clubs to progress.

“It will give more opportunities to more players all over the world to compete at the highest level.

“I accept that the football calendar is a busy one, but this is a competition that is going to take place every four years and of course the rest period during the competition and afterwards has to be respected.”

Wenger previously expressed support for the idea of a biennial World Cup, only for FIFA to drop that plan in the face of extreme opposition.

While the former Gunners boss is sympathetic to player welfare concerns, he says advances in sports science and technology have already helped on that front.

“The welfare of the players in the last 20 years has increased dramatically when you look at injury prevention, recovery work, nutrition and advances in medical technology,” Wenger added.

“Also VAR has helped with the protection of players, as players know they cannot escape from making bad tackles that cause injury.

“We see players receiving world awards, the likes of [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Karim] Benzema, all over the age of 35. It is not unusual to see international careers lasting over 20 years. Not so long ago, that was not possible.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.


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