Germany, Portugal attack plans for 2-year soccer WCup cycle

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The German and Portuguese soccer federations issued strong critiques of plans to hold the men’s World Cup every two years, warning Friday it means players risk more injuries and that women’s competitions will be overshadowed.

FIFA claimed Thursday it has the support of fans for the World Cup to be held more often. European soccer body UEFA and South American counterpart CONMEBOL are against the idea and have said they could boycott extra tournaments.

The board of the German federation, known as the DFB, said FIFA had sidestepped its own ruling council by proposing the plans first to a group of former players, and that drastic changes “cannot be made without the approval of European associations and European soccer.”

Germany also expressed concern for women’s events. The women’s World Cup is currently held in odd-numbered years and avoids clashes with major men’s tournaments. A two-year World Cup cycle could potentially force continental championships to clash with the women’s World Cup.

“If either a men’s World Cup or European Championship takes place every summer, the women’s and junior tournaments would be marginalized in the shadow of the men’s competitions,” the DFB said.

Injuries are also a concern, the DFB argued, though FIFA has said it would seek to lighten the load on players by cutting back on non-tournament national team games.

Men’s and women’s players would face increased “physical and mental strain” and the new competition schedule “would lead to a significantly increasing risk of injury,” the DFB said.

The Portuguese federation expressed similar concerns in a statement released jointly with other soccer bodies, including the Portuguese league and the local players’ union.

They listed 10 reasons against the plans, including the impact on players’ mental and physical health, the overlapping of men’s and women’s competitions, the impact on youth competitions and the “clear saturation” of the television and commercial rights market.

“For all these factors and many others, it is clear that we cannot be in favor of such a measure being implemented and even less as a result of a non-existent consultation process, in terms of clubs, leagues, federations, players’ unions, coaches and referees’ concerns,” the statement said.

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