FIFA must change international calendar or lose top players: Wenger

London, Nov 18 (IANS) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stressed that football’s governing body FIFA must consider restructuring the international calendar or risk clubs refusing to release star players.

The football body will elect a new president next year following a global scandal which has seen a number of officials arrested on corruption charges and president Sepp Blatter given a provisional 90-day suspension.

When a new administration is in place, Wenger hoped there will be an opportunity to discuss the game’s core issues. He added that the growth and extension of international tournaments must be addressed.

“It is now or never – you would like to put it all on the table. You see the European Championship has gone from 16 to 24 teams. I bet you because of the way the system was organised, to be elected as new president of FIFA, the program would be to move the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams,” Wenger was quoted as saying by player.arsenal.com on Tuesday.

“Why? Because Africa today has five countries in the World Cup and Europe has 13 – that cannot work for much longer. You cannot take countries away from Europe and if you want to be elected as FIFA president, you need the votes from the African countries, so you want to give more to Africa. So the next World Cups will be 40 teams,” he said.

The veteran manager said an adjustment needs to be done sooner or later between clubs, domestic games and international competitions.

“We face a situation where it’s impossible for the players to get through a season and have rest. This kind of friction that it creates between the clubs, national teams and international competitions can create a split,” he said.

“One day the clubs could move away and say, ‘Enough is enough, we pay a huge amount of money for our best players so we’ll get them together ourselves and organise our own competitions’. It’s important that all of that gets on the table while we have the opportunity,” Wenger said.

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