The Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation on Friday unanimously endorsed a two-year FIFA World Cup cycle, tabled before the FIFA Congress at its meeting three months ago by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino.
At a meeting held via video conference, the Board toed the line of the federation president, Amaju Pinnick and argued that the 166 countries that already supported the idea (out of FIFA’s 211 members) were in order. President of the Confederation of African Football, Dr Patrice Motsepe and football legends Lothar Matthaeus and Gary Lineker are among the leading campaigners to half the current four-year cycle of football’s flagship competition.
Pinnick told NFF.com, “With the World Cup being played every four years, the opportunity to have this experience is too rare and spread over too great a time. Whole generations of players miss out, sometimes because of one match potentially decided by one incident…the World Cup is played every four years for historic reasons linked with the Olympic cycle…it has been like this for almost 100 years. We can add one more month every four years to organize the most beautiful competition in the world and find ways to protect the players, clubs, leagues, federations and confederations’ interests and this is neither irrational nor absurd.
“It is a fact that competing at the highest level helps the less developed countries to raise their level. It increases their experience and helps them to learn from mistakes. It is also a key way to bring a country and its key stakeholders behind an objective; including the fans, the sports authorities and also governments.”
Pinnick, a member of the 37-member FIFA Council, also believes that a two-year World Cup will hasten the infrastructural development of host nations – which would be more this time – and also create more wealth, lead to more FIFA projects, enable more footballers to play in the World Cup, enable more FIFA World Cup appearance for star players and enable more winners of the coveted, 24-karat gold trophy.
“In 91 years of the FIFA World Cup, only eight countries in all have emerged winners. With a two-year cycle, that number would be overtaken quickly. Also, we had a great player like George Weah who couldn’t play in the FIFA World Cup, ditto for Abedi Pele and Anthony Yeboah. African superstars like Jay Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu could only play in three and Lucas Radebe played in only two. A player of Hadji Diouf’s quality played in only one. With a two-year World Cup, players would have more opportunities.”