England boss Gareth Southgate has questioned Arsene Wenger’s proposal for a single tournament qualifying window, adding that it risks players enduring 12 months without international football.
In his role as FIFA’s Chief of Global Development, former Arsenal manager Wenger is considering a range of reforms to the match calendar with the central aim of staging a World Cup every two years.
The 71-year-old is keen to reduce the amount of international travel players have to undertake and has suggested one qualifying window in October before a major tournament every summer, alternating between a World Cup or continental championship.
Speaking ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier against Hungary at Wembley, Southgate admitted he was not fully aware of the latest plans but cast doubt over the logic of a solitary qualifying period which would reduce the number of opportunities throughout the year when international managers can work with their players.
“There’s another part of that: what if a player was injured in October? He hasn’t played international football for a year,” he said at a news conference.
“I’m not quite sure where everything is. I saw some initial proposals. They seem to be doing the rounds and I’m not quite sure exactly what’s on the table now. It seems to change every time I speak to [chief executive] Mark Bullingham at the FA [Football Association], there’s been another presentation and another set of proposals and it is hard to keep up with, really.
“All I would say is everybody needs to be there in the discussion — club football, international football. There can be tweaks to the calendar that would help everybody.
“If there are slightly fewer windows but you get the players together for a slightly longer period of time, that might help the clubs and the international teams. But if there is only one per year, I don’t really understand that as a concept from FIFA when international football is such an important part of what they do.
“And as I said at the start, if you are a player and you miss that one month or however long it is proposed to be, what, you don’t have an international career at all that year? That doesn’t really seem to make much sense to me.”