Former Argentinian defender Pable Zabaleta was interviewed by beIN Sports during a recent visit to Qatar to discuss the proposed FIFA two-year World Cup, Lionel Messi's move to PSG, and Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United.
On FIFA 2-Year World Cup / Revised Calendar
FIFA looking to have more meaningful games, make it simpler for players. South American players have to travel so much for friendlies and qualifiers. Current 4-year plan is too long between tournaments, seems crazy to have World Cup every two years but makes sense.
Need to make football exciting for new generation. When I first saw proposal I thought wow, it’s too soon but if you think about prestige and quality of the games and allow greater opportunities for smaller countries to play in World Cup. Also, for players if you have big injury you can miss World Cup and have to wait 4 years for the next World Cup. But 2 years is for manageable for players.
Many different opinions but I think it will be good for football. Improved calendar means games played in one period and then can focus on clubs. We have all been under pressure as players not to play for international team because of possible injury or lengthy travel before big club match.
On FIFA Proposal Communication
FIFA will provide stats to support this decision, I think most of the top players are in Europe, but currently it’s hard to travel and play for your international side. I think proposal makes it easier with travel, reduce the number of games for players, avoid fatigue, increase meaningful games, it’s very positive.
On FIFA Proposal and Club vs Country
Good for international coach to have his players for a dedicated month. I know clubs pay the players’ salary and pandemic is making things difficult, but I think players and management for country and club benefits everyone.
FIFA Proposal Club issues under current system
A club manager doesn’t want to play a player who has just returned from international duty on Thursday night or Friday morning for club match on Saturday.
On FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Stadiums amazing – Al Bayt is amazing, the pitch, the stands, the dressing room. Journey time between stadiums is so short. For fans, players, teams Qatar will be perfect, I remember in Brazil 2014 the travel was 2 hours flight between matches, same in Russia 2018. Qatar small country – easy to get to all the stadiums, lovely country, places, hotels, I think it will be a wonderful world cup. Fans can see multiple games in one day, transport network great, will be much better than 2010 and 2014 World Cup, distance not an issue, players & fans won’t travel more than 50km.
On Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Transfers This Summer
I always thought Messi would be 1 club man – legacy at Barca is incredible, so strange that he has left the club, football very unpredictable. Ronaldo has always moved but I think Messi would always be associated with Barca.
On PSG’s Strength with Messi in the Team
Neymar, Messi, Mbappe, Di Maria, Ramos, Donaruma. Messi is still a winner, PSG on paper are the favourites for UCL but you never know. Pochettino not sure if he is in better or worse situation to manage that squad, so many egos in the dressing room, so many talented players. I wish Messi all the best, want him to play well and be successful but to be honest I never thought we’d see him leave Barca.
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