Leading article: The struggle to be the champion of football

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
SEPP BLATTER, president of football's world governing body, Fifa, has suggested that the World Cup should be held every two years. One immediate objection to this is that the idea is part of the struggle for power between Fifa, the governor of global football, and the different Continental authorities such as Uefa, the European governing body. Football rivalries are becoming more virulent as the amount of money involved increases: yesterday Jack Wiseman, for 15 years the chairman of the English Football Association, was forced to resign after being accused of trying to buy seats on Fifa's executive council.

We should look at the principles behind the proposal, rather than focusing on the rivalries surrounding it. There is nothing wrong in marketing football's most valuable product so that it makes maximum money for the game. A world game needs a world authority; Fifa is right to restrain regional empire- building.

Commercialisation is a natural part of the improvements football has made over the last few years. Top-level football may now cost more to watch, but hooliganism has mostly been banished from a new generation of stadia bought with new advertising revenue. Eliminating the pointless "friendlies" that litter the season, and replacing them with meaningful qualifying games, could also be a bonus.

Even so, football bosses should beware of devaluing their product. With the Champions League, the domestic League and Cup, regional qualifying competitions and the World Cup itself, top players could find themselves playing too many games. At that level of fitness, small injuries will never have time to heal. Football fans who instinctively warm to the idea of more football should remember that they may be forced to watch their heroes limp around the world, playing worse football the more they compete.

Comments