Life is more beautiful
when all our nations unite
through love, peace, and sport.
– Author’s own words
Every four years, billions of people around the world celebrate the exhilarating FIFA World Cup tournament. This almost 90 year old globally symbolic event, which has been hosted by multiple countries in different continents, has united the hearts and hands of people worldwide above any political, social, cultural, religious, and economical differences. It is the moment in which the world stops and peace, equality, and harmony exists for the love of the game and the love of life.
This year marks the 21st edition of the quadrennial extravaganza. The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will feature the top 32 teams that qualified for the widely anticipated prestigious tournament.
This year’s World Cup event will certainly have a lot of support and viewership from across the planet, which will provide massive success. That said, the majority of people around the world will not realistically be represented on the field as shown through numerical figures ahead.
FIFA can astutely and proactively take one giant step forward in helping unite the world through the beautiful game by ensuring that more nations have another important opportunity to play for a global championship and more people are fully represented. FIFA can create a simultaneous complimentary event similar to what the UEFA Europa League is to the UEFA Champions League as well as what the CONMEBOL Copa SudAmericana is to the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores. FIFA can give billions of people the FIFA Cup of Nations (FIFA Copa de Naciones) tournament.
This globally televised event can be hosted in partnership by the United States and Canada with 32 teams from different confederations. Both of these countries recently and successfully showcased the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2016 CONMEBOL Copa America Centenario, breaking several viewership and attendance records. They both have ready to use state-of-the-art FIFA certified facilities. The FIFA Cup of Nations tournament can take place this year in the summer in the US and Canada concurrently with the FIFA World Cup.
Why should FIFA create this tournament?
a) The enormous numbers shown ahead don’t lie, which reflect world population and participation.
b) The sport of football / soccer belongs to everyone and should be represented on the quadrennial global stage by a majority.
c) FIFA and the world will tremendously benefit, all through the love of the beautiful game.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”
– Nelson Mandela
Like the influential prominent world leader Nelson Mandela once said, “sport has the power to unite people”. FIFA can help unite more of the world with the FIFA Cup of Nations.
Here is the list of the countries participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup:
7.6 billion World Population
– 1.6 billion Population of the 2018 FIFA World Cup countries
= 6 billion of the World Population not participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
1.6 billion = 21% of the World Population represented in the 2018 FIFA World Cup
6 billion = 79% of the World Population not represented in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Based on these numbers alone, it is essential and imperative that FIFA creates the FIFA Cup of Nations as a truly complimentary tournament to the FIFA World Cup, like the UEFA Europa League is to the UEFA Champions League.
Comparatively, here is a theoretical list of potential participating countries in the 2018 FIFA Cup of Nations, selected through both performance in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and invitation. FIFA will ultimately decide who they think should form a part of this important complimentary event.
Notice that both the individual Western Hemisphere and Eastern Hemisphere as well as combined populations are larger in the Cup of Nations than the numbers found in the World Cup.
World Population = 7.6 billion
1.6 billion Population of the 2018 FIFA World Cup countries
+ 3.9 billion Population of the 2018 FIFA Cup of Nations countries
= 5.5 billion of World Population participating in both the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Cup of Nations.
5.5 billion = 72% of the World Population represented in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Cup of Nations.
vs 6 billion = 79% of the World Population not represented in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
7.6 billion World Population
– 5.5 billion Population of the 2018 FIFA Cup of Nations countries
= 2.1 billion or 28% of World Population not participating in both the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Cup of Nations tournaments.
6 billion (79%) vs 2.1 billion (28%) not participating in the FIFA tournaments is a 3.9 billion gain. The complementary combination of the World Cup and Cup of Nations would allow FIFA to present the world with two top inclusive and globally representative competitions.
This is a real win for FIFA and the world as more nations will participate and unite in solidarity for the sport.
32 teams in the FIFA World Cup
+ 32 teams in the FIFA Cup of Nations
= 64 teams in both tournaments
32 teams in the FIFA World Cup out of 211 member associations is only 15%. Meanwhile, 64 teams in both the FIFA World Cup and Cup of Nations out of 211 is 30%, or almost a third of the member associations, which is relative to the ideal percentage of teams that qualify in playoffs / post season games in league competitions around the world.
FIFA already announced that the World Cup will be expanded to 48 teams, starting eight years from now with the 2026 World Cup event. The FIFA Cup of Nations can today compliment the World Cup in 2018 and potentially as well in 2022 and serve as a bridge towards 2026. While the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar (Asia), the 2022 FIFA Cup of Nations, similar to the 2018 edition, can be hosted by a group of countries from a single confederation that are not in the World Cup (perhaps found in Africa, South America, or Europe). This would save a lot on construction and operation costs for host nations not reaching the latter competition. By 2026, the two tournaments can merge as the World Cup would have 48 teams, or FIFA can decide to keep them both (like the UEFA Champions League and Europa League).
Ultimately, why should we or FIFA deny billions of fans a chance to support their own nations in a historic grand tournament? why should we or FIFA deny superstars in their own right such as
a) Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon (Italy)
b) Gareth Bale (Wales)
c) Alexis Sánchez (Chile)
d) Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
e) Christian Pulisic (USA)
f) Mariano Díaz Mejía (Dominican Republic)
g) Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)
h) Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)
i) Sunil Chhetri (India)
j) Yu Dabao (China)
and dozens of great players as well as the billions of residents in their collective countries the opportunity to compete for another valuable, FIFA fully sanctioned, global trophy especially when there are two neighboring countries, the United States and Canada, in the same confederation, CONCACAF, who would be ready to host it tomorrow with a potential massive financial return?
In 2018, FIFA can simultaneously host two successful unifying tournaments in two hemispheres: the World Cup in the Eastern Hemisphere in Europe and the Cup of Nations in the Western Hemisphere in North America. The Cup of Nations final would be held first, either a week or a few days prior, while the World Cup final would be the climax to the quadrennial summer event. This inspiring synergy, needed more than ever to bring peace, love, equality, and harmony through sport, would truly make football / soccer the World’s Game.
As FIFA says:
“For the Game. For the World.”
Together, both the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Cup of Nations have the power to inspire, unite, and change the world for the greater good. All it takes is belief and a yes. The world is ready for more.
Economist, Urban Planner, and Educator