By Euan Cunningham

Fifa, soccer’s global governing body, is to proceed with a study into the feasibility of hosting the men's and women's World Cups every two years.

The two tournaments are currently held on a quadrennial basis, but the federation has been weighing up the possibility of more regular events in what would represent a significant shake-up of the international calendar, and impact on top continental competitions such as the European Championships and Copa America.

The proposal, put forward by the Saudi Arabian Football Association, passed by 166 votes to 22, at the virtual Fifa congress on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference after the congress, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said: "At the moment it doesn’t matter what we think, it only matters what the results of the upcoming study are…

“We need to see what the study says and go into it with an open mind, we won’t take decisions that will jeopardise the World Cup, we know the impact it can have. It’s an interesting discussion and we will take all input on board.”

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Concerns have been expressed that more regular World Cups would devalue soccer's showpiece event.

However, Infantino said: "I don’t think a repetitive element would be harmful, because this is successful elsewhere, in domestic leagues. We will, in all our analyses, put the sporting element – not the commercial element – first.

“Currently, national teams only have the opportunity to win a World Cup every four years, so this is why we are looking at the frequency.”

The idea of a biennial Fifa World Cup was first mooted by Fifa's former president Sepp Blatter over 20 years ago, and revived in 2018 by Alejandro Dominguez, the head of South American confederation Conmebol.

The proposal was also raised this year by Arsene Wenger, the former soccer club manager who is now head of global development for Fifa.

Fifa, which earns up to $6 billion from media and sponsorship deals for each World Cup, is believed to be receptive to the concept, having made a conscious effort over the last few editions to expand both men's and women's World Cups.

The 2026 men's edition, to be held in Mexico, the US and Canada, will feature 48 teams and 80 games, up from 32 and 64 respectively for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Infantino has previously given his support to the Women's World Cup being held every two years, initially as a test concept.

In other developments in women’s soccer, the congress voted unanimously to bring the bidding process to host the Women’s World Cup in line with that of the men’s edition. 

The allocation of all future Women’s World Cups will be voted on by the Fifa congress itself, as opposed to the smaller council, as has been the case.

The latter method was still used in June last year, when Australia and New Zealand were awarded the 2023 tournament.

The congress also voted in favour of a proposal by the Jamaican Football Federation, to set up and conduct “a comprehensive consultation process to explore opportunities for women’s global competitions, including a women’s world league".

Fifa’s financial statements, including a revenue budget for 2022, were approved at the congress.

The governing body has forecast revenue of $4.66 million for the next financial year, with TV broadcasting rights making up the largest slice, $2.64 billion.

During the press conference, Infantino denied reports he had been involved in the discussions on the creation of a European Super League, but did say that when talking to the leaders of top clubs on the continent, such an idea "is always a topic of conversation".

In April, 12 European clubs announced plans to create a 20-team Super League that would usurp the existing Uefa Champions League as the continent's top clubs competition.

However, amid significant opposition, notably from Uefa and Fifa, the majority of teams pulled out and the proposal collapsed.

Infantino said on Friday: “We should look at facts, and not rumours or gossip… I have spoken with clubs for many years, since my days at Uefa, and when speaking with European clubs, the Super League is always a subject for conversation – everyone knows this, so lets not play games here.”

“With dialogue we have always managed to find solutions… At Fifa it is my responsibility to meet with football stakeholders, which includes clubs, and to listen to them. This does not mean however that Fifa was colluding or plotting behind any Super League project.”

He added that Fifa is “always ready to defend football from projects we know are wrong, we are very strict on this… but we will always leave room for clubs to come back and discuss their issues".

Infantino also admitted that the current club soccer situation in Europe “is certainly not perfect… That's why we need to speak to everyone about everything… I don't close the doors to any discussion with anyone.

“I have been elected by 211 member associations in order to defend their interests, not only a few who want to criticise."