May 8, 2021

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How would Arsene Wenger’s dramatic reform of the European football calendar work?


Arsene Wenger is no stranger to the occasional weird statement.

If he’s not claiming players should only be offside if their genitals are two metres ahead of the defender’s, he’s usually trying to convince people the only reason he didn’t sign Pele for Arsenal was because his car broke down.

Unfortunately, unlike when we make ludicrous statements and they just get laughed off, the former Arsenal boss actually has a bit of pull in the footballing world. Y’know, considering he’s FIFA’s chief of global football development n’all that.

The latest idea to pop into his head at 3:15am that he’s then decided is good enough to share with the world would see a dramatic reform of the football calendar, including World Cups being played every two years.

But don’t worry about reading through pages and pages of jargon trying to explain what it would mean for us football fans and what the actual benefits would be, here’s a simple breakdown of Wenger’s latest mad idea…

The proposal would see the removal of winter football
The proposal would see the removal of winter football | George Wood/Getty Images

The Frenchman’s proposal would see the European footballing season kick off in March and end November.

On the face of it, the idea doesn’t actually sound too bad when you consider the treacherous conditions us football fans endure through the winter months, but the thought of no Boxing Day football makes us shudder.

Arsene Wenger managed in Japan prior to moving to Arsenal
Arsene Wenger managed in Japan prior to moving to Arsenal | Sports Nippon/Getty Images

Wenger’s inspiration for the radical change came from his time in Japan.

Prior to moving to Arsenal in 1996, the Frenchman spent a year with Japanese side Nagoya Grampus and the move would see the European football season align with the dates used in Asia.

Japan isn’t the only country whose season is played from March to November, with MLS campaigns running at the same time, hence players coming over from America on short-team loan deals in their off-season.

Arsene Wenger believes the European football season needs to be moved
Arsene Wenger believes the European football season needs to be moved | Simon Hofmann/Getty Images

Wenger pointed to the simplicity of the season scheduling in the far east when asked of his motives behind the idea: “We played from March until November and it was perfect,” he told beIn SPORTS (via ESPN).

“You would not have anymore ‘he won the Championship in season 2018/19.’ No, the championship was won in 2018 or 2019 and in 2020.”

The former Arsenal boss also added that the European football calendar is archaic and is in need of reform.

“Let’s not forget that this summer break comes from the way people were not professional, it’s over 100 years ago,” he said. “Today the players don’t go on holiday over the season.”

Wenger's proposal could see a World Cup tournament every two years
Wenger’s proposal could see a World Cup tournament every two years | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

As part of the reform, Wenger is proposing that the World Cup is played every two years rather than every four, while he also believes the European Championships should be played every two years – meaning there’d be a major international tournament every year!

The Frenchman believes if the World Cup is a more regular occurrence, not only would it offer players the chance to represent their country on the grandest stage more than a couple of times throughout their careers, it would also help develop football in smaller countries as they’d be playing more regularly against the top teams.

Arsene Wenger's plans look some way off coming to fruition
Arsene Wenger’s plans look some way off coming to fruition | Pool/Getty Images

Well, not very soon to put it bluntly.

Wenger believes the winter World Cup in Qatar next year offered the perfect opportunity for the European football calendar to align with the rest of the world, but with such a move requiring years of planning, it seems any such plans are a long way off.

“It was a good opportunity [to remodel the football season] with the World Cup in November…but it’s not the case so that will not happen,” Wenger said.

The Frenchman added that FIFA are holding a worldwide consultation later this month so it remains to be seen whether his suggestions are taken any further.