Alex Morgan: Investment must coincide with biennial World Cup plan

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Alex Morgan said increased investment in the women’s game must be part of any plan for a biennial World Cup.

Morgan, a star on the U.S. women’s national team, is part of a FIFA technical advisory group announced this week that is looking into a proposal to stage the World Cup every two years.

“We looked at not only the financial part of it when it comes to the World Cup, but also increasing the number of federations that have women’s teams that play year-round, not only play in qualifiers once every four years — or possibly in the future once every two years,” Morgan said. “So how do we continue to incentivize and put more money into the women’s game? That’s a huge piece of it as well, I don’t think you can have one without the other. You can’t have a biannual World Cup without addressing the financial piece.”

Former U.S. coach Jill Ellis is heading the group, which includes former and current players, coaches, referees and administrators.

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Morgan is open to the biennial plan, but did not outright endorse it Tuesday while speaking to reporters ahead of the U.S. team’s match against South Korea in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Just with the history of the World Cup, I think it’s really difficult to grasp the concept of changing from every four years to two years because historically it’s just what we’ve done and what we’re used to,” Morgan said. “But I also look at the growth of the women’s game and how it could really benefit club leagues around the world, it could really benefit every federation and their players in terms of visibility, in terms of gaining more coverage for women’s soccer.”

FIFA revealed aspirations last month to redraft the calendar of international soccer competitions to accommodate holding the men’s and women’s World Cup every two years.

The idea has been widely criticized. UEFA and CONMEBOL have threated to boycott the tournament and the International Olympic Committee has also come out against the plan. FIFPro, the global players’ union, has also raised concerns.

Morgan said a biennial World Cup is not a done deal, and that’s why the advisory board is important.

“There’s still a lot of discussions to be had, but I think this advisory board was created to listen to the players. So if all players said, ‘No this is crazy, we cannot do this, this will hurt women’s football globally in such a great way that we can’t recover from this’ is (FIFA President Gianni Infantino) and FIFA going to listen? Of course,” she said. “That’s what this advisory board is formed to do, is to have the consensus of the players that are actually going to be affected by this both positively and negatively. It’s not a decision taken lightly.”