Wenger insists winter World Cup has ‘worked’ and could happen again; backtracks on biennial idea

Jason Soutar
Arsene Wenger at the 2022 World Cup draw

Arsene Wenger has hinted at more winter World Cups in the future with this year’s tournament in Qatar showing that it “works”.

The 2022 World Cup was controversially awarded to Qatar despite a summer tournament being impossible due to the scorching temperatures.

It was eventually moved to the winter – five years after Qatar was confirmed as the host nation – as the controversy continued.

A winter World Cup created a whole lot of issues, with clubs cramming half a season of football into a few months prior to the tournament.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg, but I won’t get into all of that here, nor will I get into why Qatar hosting the tournament is a shambles.

Anyway… the 2022 tournament has been annoyingly brilliant as the quarter-finals get underway on Friday.

And speaking to L’Equipe, former Arsenal manager Wenger has said “a World Cup in the winter works” and can see it happening again in the future.

“If we want to democratise football, we will have to go to African countries where it is impossible to play a World Cup in the summer,” FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development said.

“We can see it with this edition in Qatar, a World Cup in the winter works.

“Of course, many players did not have the usual time to prepare physically but at least they all approached this competition with real mental freshness, which has not always been the case in the past.

“I remember teams starting a World Cup psychologically tired because their preparation period had gone badly.”

The Arsenal legend has previously stated that he wanted the World Cup to be played every two years.

Wenger is well known for his great football brain, but this idea did not go down too well.

And he has now backtracked on this idea, stating that it is not going to happen any time soon, though he reiterates that it wasn’t a bad idea.

Wenger added: “I had been asked to think about it and I thought it was not a bad idea.

“But such a change would have required a complete review of the qualifying calendar.

“We are not heading towards that today, but rather towards four-year cycles alternating with a World Cup, the Women’s World Cup – which is becoming more and more important – and the Euros.”

African nation Morocco – who have emerged as the real dark horses of the 2022 World Cup – has submitted a bid to host the 2030 tournament, which could be co-hosted with Algeria and Tunisia.

This year’s tournament will be the last with 32 teams, with 2026 set to have 48 in a new-look format.

READ MORE: FIFA-era Wenger is a grave disappointment, but we should be thankful for his blundering Qatar reminder