Thierry Henry explains why he’s against 2-year World Cup cycle: ‘Have you actually asked the current players?’

There was a spirited back and forth between Peter Schmeichel, Thierry Henry, and Jamie Carragher on the Paramount+ set this week as the topic of two-year FIFA World Cup cycle championed by Arsene Wenger raised its head.

Host Kate Abdo quizzed the three former players on their thoughts and while Schmeichel is for the idea, Henry and Carragher both said they were vehemently opposed to it.

According to the ex-Denmark international, he would have preferred more chances to feature at World Cups as he only played in one.

“It is a very complex thing,” said Schmeichel. “It is very difficult to make everybody happy. Something needs to be done because football is not just in Europe anymore. We have all the big tournaments here and players coming from everywhere in the world to play.

“Some of them travel thousands and thousands of miles and hours. They also have to come back to play for their clubs on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

“My argument for is that I am Danish. There is no guarantee that we will be in the World Cup every four years. I played for my country for 14 years with the record for most games and yet I only played at one World Cup.

“What he wants to do is to give more players a chance to play. He is looking at Asia and Africa, of course, and their opportunities are very limited. More World Cups means more opportunities to play in them.”

Henry believes that current players will not be keen on the idea and recalled his own experiences with France which left him “shattered” each summer.

“Have you actually asked the current players what they think? The ones playing,” said the World Cup winner. “I do not think so. Why would the current players have a problem? I will tell you. An example is that I played at four World Cups and in some Euros. I can tell you that I was shattered mentally after them.

“It is not just the games, but the preparation and getting back to your club. If you play every two years, mentally that is a tough blow. I am not talking about travelling. I am talking about playing those games and the pressure that comes with playing for France, for example. Players struggle with that.”

Carragher then chimed in with his major concerns which is that former players are the ones being asked to justify the idea as soccer continues to evolve at lightspeed.

“My problem is that I have been on the call with the experts and Wenger directly, players like Mascherano too,” said the ex-Liverpool man. “Maybe I have not been invited to the next one as I am not fully involved with it as you and pro-World Cup. My big problem is why are we getting ex-players to support it as we are not going to play in it?”

Schmeichel admitted that mental fatigue contributed towards him deciding to leave Manchester United in a poor career move but rejected the idea that Wenger is not attentive enough to players’ needs to rest.

“It is not about the World Cup every two years,” said the Dane. “Let me be clear that he is very concerned about the players and there must be a 25-day mandatory rest after one of these events. That is enough to not come back to your club shattered.

“I was there too, and I made a really bad decision in my career coming out of a World Cup mentally drained. I decided to leave United because I was not in a state where I could make a qualified decision about something that big.”

Paramount+’s coverage of European soccer continues on Thursday with the UEFA Europa League and Europa Conference League before the return of Serie A this weekend.

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