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Jill Ellis, former USWNT coach, pushing for biennial World Cup

(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The biennial World Cup debate is not a foregone conclusion, but former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis would like to see it happen.

FIFA’s Technical Advisory Group has begun to discuss the possibility of holding a World Cup every two years after FIFA proposed the idea to national soccer federations for reasons that include the ability to grow the women’s game.

“The Olympics does hold a very, very special place, but we also recognize that it’s three European teams, because of the size of the tournament itself, it doesn’t open it up to a lot of people to even experience that,” Ellis told Forbes, adding that the group hasn’t really discussed the impact a biennial World Cup would have on the Olympics.

“Right now it’s just a 12-team tournament and I don’t think there’s potential to expand because it’s part of a major, major global event,” she continued.

“I’m focused more on what we control in FIFA and the recommendations within FIFA — the IOC obviously controls (the Olympics) — what can we do in FIFA to grow and elevate the game?”

Many players have addressed the prospect publicly, with Becky Sauerbrunn saying FIFA needs to end “racism, homophobia and misogyny” in order to grow the women’s game. Alex Morgan said she sees both sides to the argument, but overall she would like federations to improve their financial commitment to women’s soccer if they’re going to increase the number of World Cups.

Biennial World Cups would bring the global qualifying process under FIFA’s control, among other reforms. Ellis argued that the minimum standards the change would create would, in turn, benefit the entire women’s game.

A vote will decide whether the the change is enacted. Ellis said it is unclear whether the vote dictating the women’s tournament will take place separately from that of the men’s.

“I would imagine that you have to look at them independently,” she said. “We’ve had great conversations and people representing their ideas. I can’t say this is a foregone conclusion. I’ve told people that I need you to passionately discuss through your perspective and experiences, but then I also ask them to appreciate other points of view.”

While leaving the decision up to the vote, Ellis made her stance clear.

“We recognize that domestically there’s a benefit, viewership comes up after a major world event, leagues have been started, players have been discovered,” she said. “There’s so many positives that come from a World Cup.”