At least 12 European countries are considering quitting their membership of soccer’s global governing body Fifa, as the last resort in their efforts to prevent the introduction of a biennial men’s Fifa World Cup, according to reports.

The Associated Press has quoted two sources as saying that European soccer’s governing body Uefa (which is categorically opposed to the idea of bringing the World Cup down from once every four years to once every two) has received messages from more than a dozen member federations who are contemplating leaving Fifa in order to avoid having to take part in such an event. 

The proposal for Fifa to double the frequency of its most prestigious competition initially came during the governing body’s annual congress in July, as a submission from the Saudi Football Federation, and is currently going through a feasibility study, with a final vote provisionally scheduled for December.

Last week, six Nordic federations (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands), referenced quitting Fifa as the last option available to them to ensure their non-involvement, in a statement.

Those bodies said: “If a majority in Fifa decides to adopt a proposal on (biennial) World Cups, the Nordic football associations will need to consider further actions and scenarios that are closer to our fundamental values than what the current Fifa proposal stands for.”

Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, has already said that his body, and South American counterpart Conmebol, would be willing to not take part in a biennial World Cup and that they would actually be prepared to boycott such an event.

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Indeed, Reuters has today reported that at a virtual meeting between Fifa, Uefa and various Uefa member federations earlier this week, Ceferin told his Fifa counterpart Gianni Infantino: "I am seriously asking you not to push for a vote because that could have terrible consequences for football in general…

"I don't think it would be wise to go for a vote on a matter like that … Clubs and leagues don't have a vote and this idea is detrimental to their existence."

Opposition at the meeting also reportedly came from the Italian, Romanian, German and Portuguese federations.

Given that Uefa generates in the region of $14 billion during each four-year rights cycle, as opposed to the $6 billion that Fifa generates over the same time period, its opposition and that of its members should be seen as significant. 

In Fifa’s statutes, Article 18 sets out that any member association can quit the body by providing notice six months before the end of a calendar year. The member association would still be able to participate in continental competitions, so Uefa’s flagship European Championships would be unaffected. 

This would be an unprecedented move, with specific nations unlikely to leave on their own and therefore presumably requiring the tacit support and acceptance of Uefa.

European soccer’s governing body has already begun the process of selecting a host nation for the 2028 Euros, its own flagship tournament that would directly come up against a biennial World Cup if Fifa succeeds in increasing the frequency of that event from 2026 onwards. 

Late last week, it set out the tender details for countries interesting in hosting Euro 2028, in what can be seen as a doubling down on its position with regards to a biennial World Cup. 

This development, with nations actively considering quitting Fifa over the issue, adds to the general furore which has surrounded Fifa’s plans in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee had its say, issuing thinly-veiled criticism of the idea. 

It said: “A number of international federations of other sports, national football federations, clubs, players, player associations and coaches have expressed strong reservations and concerns regarding the plans to generate more revenue for Fifa…

“The IOC shares these concerns and supports the calls of stakeholders of football, international sports federations, and major event organisers for a wider consultation, including with athletes' representatives, which has obviously not taken place.”

The IOC is by far the largest sporting body to have had its say on the biennial World Cup proposals so far, although all of Fifa’s continental confederations have also issued statements.

Three of those bodies – North and Central America’s Concacaf, the Asian Football Confederation, and the Confederation of African Football – have either said they support the proposal or are willing to approach it with an open mind, while European soccer's Uefa and its South American equivalent Conmebol (both of which carry significant weight in the game) have said they are categorically opposed to the idea.

Various European domestic leagues, as well as the European Club Association, have also issued their public opposition to the plans.

The original suggestion for a biennial World Cup from the Saudis was referred to by Infantino as “an eloquent and detailed proposal” earlier this summer, and the subsequent vote to set up a feasibility study secured 166 votes in favour from the various worldwide national federations, with only 22 federations standing against.

The next Fifa World Cup is set for November and December 2022 in Qatar.