Jurgen Klopp Slams Arsene Wenger and FIFA for World Cup Plan

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The gloves have well and truly come off between Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp and the FIFA biennial World Cup feasibility study as he slammed the football governing body for their mercenary ways.

The German also accused former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger of having no regard for player welfare. In a very tense portion of his press conference ahead of the Leeds United clash, Klopp took aim at FIFA for a variety of reasons.

After having his say on the 5-day suspensions being handed down to players in the Premier League, he aimed his ire at Arsene Wenger and FIFA, who have made no secret of their desire to have a biennial World Cup in recent times.

When asked about it, the German had this to say –

“There’s no other sport in the world, I’m pretty sure, with such a relentless calendar, year-round, not a physical sport. Other physical sports don’t have this calendar. We all know why this is.

“In the end, it’s all about money, that’s how it is.

“Every reform that gets suggested, it’s always about more games.”

This comes hot on the heels of an interesting exchange between Klopp’s fellow Liverpool alumni Jamie Carragher and Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel during a CBS media call two days ago. 

During the exchange, Jamie accused the Danish shot-stopper of being a FIFA apologist for his support of the idea, to which Peter replied Jamie did not know what he was talking about. He added he would have loved to have played in a World Cup every two years when he was a player.

Both former players, now pundits, promised to take the debate to CBS’s ’21-’21 UEFA Champions League coverage, which commences next week.

Personally, I think the idea of having a World Cup every 2 years instead of every four years takes a bit of the shine off of the biggest trophy in world football. Less is more.

And like Klopp said in his press conference – you better believe that if FIFA holds the World Cup every two years, then UEFA won’t be far behind in making the European Championships a biennial event too.

Along with the loss of prestige that the competition would suffer, there is the impact it would have on the players. It would turn football’s already jam-packed schedule into a relentless grind of football games that would slowly deteriorate in both quality and meaningfulness.

We’ve already seen this in action just this week, given the feud between the Brazilian FA and the Premier League. Several of the Premier League’s top stars were cleared to play in this weekend’s games, but only at the last minute.

This came after the confederations of Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, and Chile all waived the automatic 5-day suspension imposed on clubs for refusing to release players for international duty in COVID red zone countries.

Superstars like Alison Becker, Emerson, Gabriel Jesus, Raul Jimenez, and Fabinho were all given a green light to play in what must have been a huge relief for their Premier League sides. Klopp especially as two of those five players are in his squad. 

Klopp said Wenger and his FIFA colleagues have gone back on an agreement to not punish clubs for refusing to send their players to red zones saying:

“I had a meeting with Arsene Wenger and he showed me the World Cup plans. In that moment I got the message from our guys saying ‘no exemptions from the government for our players’. All three people in the room agreed the players could not go”

He also took a not so thinly-veiled swipe at the Brazilian governing football body saying:

“Brazil played 1.30 am this morning [UK] time, they won all 3 games and still there is a complaint.”

Manchester United gaffer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also laid the boot into the situation.

“They (the players) want to play for national teams and clubs but are not allowed. I’m disappointed with the whole thing. Common sense might not be common anymore.”

It is unclear whether the confederations or FIFA are reacting to the managerial pair’s clear disdain in their pre-match press conferences. It is also unclear what FIFA’s plan is in the future regarding the red zone situation.

What is clear is with the next international break coming around sooner rather than later – there needs to be a permanent resolution by then. Whether that’s via the British government giving special exemptions to players or FIFA correcting course and changing rules for the new COVID normal like they did last year.

It’s clear something needs to change.

For now, though, I think we can just be grateful that common sense has prevailed this time around and we will see the best of the best playing in the Premier League this weekend.

Let’s hope Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is wrong and common sense is still common. For the good of the players, the good of the competition, and the good of the game.

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