FIFA held its 71st Congress online today ©Getty Images

FIFA will explore the possibility of holding the World Cup and Women's World Cup every two years after a proposal from Saudi Arabia was overwhelmingly approved at its 71st Congress.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation requested a feasibility study on cutting in half the traditional four-year cycles for the flagship tournaments at today's virtual meeting.

When put to a vote of member nations the proposal passed comfortably - with 166 in favour and just 22 against.

Holding the World Cups every two years would see FIFA double the amount of money it rakes in from its most lucrative competitions.

But it is unclear how continental tournaments would fit into the calendar and many will claim that holding more regular World Cups will devalue the importance of the events.

World Cup qualifying, too, would have to be significantly restructured if the plan went ahead, while FIFA also wants to find room for an expanded Club World Cup.

Saudi Arabian Football Federation President Yasser Al-Misehal told the meeting the sport is at a "critical juncture" and that the "many issues" currently being faced have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is time to review how the global game is structured and to consider what is best for the future of our sport," he said.

"This should include whether the current four-year cycle remains the optimum basis for how football is managed both from a competition and commercial perspective."

Saudi Arabia is increasingly throwing its hat into the ring to host sporting events, with the Kingdom funded by vast reserves of oil and gas.

It is highly likely the World Cup will be on its radar, especially as regional rival Qatar is hosting the next men's event in 2022.

However, the country has faced severe international criticism over alleged human rights abuses.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino used the meeting to express his desire to make football a more "global" sport and his wish to change the domination of Europe and South America.

He said he wanted to see 50 top national teams and 50 top clubs worldwide, for men and women.

Out of the top 30 richest clubs in the world, not one is from outside Europe.

The top 20 of these are only from five European countries.

"We have to ask ourselves, we are always saying football is the global sport but is football really global?" Infantino said, while also criticising the large sums agents pocket in the transfer market in comparison to the clubs which initially trained the players.

"The answer is no, it is not.

"There are fewer and fewer countries and even fewer clubs who have the largest resources. 

"This financial disparity which goes along with the sporting disparity is growing."

Fouzi Lekjaa, the President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and a vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), spoke to support the Saudi plan and said it could help with Infantino's global vision.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino called for a more global sport at the Congress ©Getty Images
FIFA President Gianni Infantino called for a more global sport at the Congress ©Getty Images

"In CAF we completely support the review of the competition formats," he said, while admitting that changing from four years could be considered "taboo".

"This will help us to carry out our mission more successfully, in accordance with the statutes, to promote football development.

"The competition formats need to evolve so that we can allow football development to the full and in CAF we welcome the proposal and we wish to ask the administration to carry out this review as quickly as possible, so we can have a platform for discussion and negotiation in place so we can establish a new competition format going forward to allow the development of football.

"We think this will bring further growth to football and allow us to emerge from this challenging situation today and allow regions which are lagging behind to develop.

"Hopefully this will allow us to reach our target of truly global football and prosperous football, with swifter and more significant development."

The Congress also accepted a proposal from Jamaica, requesting that a "global women's football competition concept" is prepared, by 191 votes to three.

Liberia's suggestion for a framework on youth competitions was passed by 189 votes to four.

Elsewhere at the Congress, Colombia's Jorge Palacio was elected as chair of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

He received 138 votes to unseat incumbent Anin Yeboah of Ghana, who was instead elected as deputy chairman.

Martin Ngoga of Rwanda was appointed as chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, unseating Colombia's incumbent María Claudia Rojas - who finished fourth - with 133 votes.

Bruno de Vita of Canada and Parasuraman Subramanian of Malaysia were named deputy chairs as Rojas again missed out.

The chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee will remain Vassilios Skouris of Greece, who topped the ballot with 137 votes.

Rojas - who could now help adjudicate cases she was previously investigating - was elected as one of two deputy chairs alongside Fiti Sunia of American Samoa.

The top two positions on the Appeal Committee have switched around, with American Neil Eggleston now chair and Sweden's Thomas Bodstrom deputy chair.

A new Governance, Audit and Compliance Committee has been formed following the merger of the previous separate bodies.

India's Mukul Mudgal, the previous head of the Governance Committee, was voted in as chair with 125 votes and American Chris Mihm will be deputy chair.

The Congress also heard from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach who said football would play a special role at Tokyo 2020 as the sport will begin before the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

"Football will send the very first light at the end of the tunnel," Bach, who has talked up the Games as a beacon of hope after the coronavirus crisis, said.

"From Japan to the billions of people around the world."

FIFA's suspensions of both Pakistan and Chad were confirmed.