European clubs accuse FIFA of violating the law
European clubs joined forces on Friday to blame FIFA for trying to push through plans for biennial World Cups, warning of a destructive impact on world football. (More football news)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has infuriated the European Club Association, which accuses the global governing body of breaking legal obligations by rushing to radically overhaul the sport and gain more control.
FIFA has pushed internal media interviews with retired players and former managers as it rushes to sweep support from national associations for plan to double the frequency of Men’s World Cups from every four years to two, while also making women’s football seem like an afterthought.
UEFA has already expressed concerns about FIFA’s behavior and this has been echoed by ECA, which represents 234 clubs.
The ECA said it would support a more balanced approach to club and international football by reducing the five windows typically in the year for players to be released for national team matches to reduce player burden. It is the apparent lack of commitment by FIFA to the new international match calendar (IMC) required from 2024 that worries the clubs.
“The ECA has therefore followed with great concern and concern the launch by FIFA of active public relations campaigns and a lot of pretense,” the club body said in a statement to The Associated Press, ” apparently seeking to walk through BMI reforms, in particular the introduction of a biennial World Cup program. “
The 211 FIFA member federations were invited to online discussions on the new IMC on Thursday.
The plans resurfaced in May when the Saudi Arabian federation nominally proposed at the May congress that FIFA consider biennial World Cups. The Saudis have become one of Infantino’s closest allies, who has made trips this year to see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It is former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who has been deployed to sell the World Cup business every two years in his role as FIFA’s head of world football development. He has made presentations to the media before bodies such as UEFA on his vision for the post 2024 match schedule, which requires approval from the ECA in order for clubs to release players for the tournaments.
FIFA was “in light of the range of predisposed decisions and communications … in direct and unilateral violation of certain legal obligations,” the ECA said.
“Besides the notable lack of real (if any) consultation, and as many stakeholders have pointed out in recent days, FIFA’s proposals would have a direct and destructive impact on club play, both at national level than international, ”added the ECA. .
“In addition, the proposals would endanger the health and well-being of the players. They would dilute the value and significance of club and country competitions. “
The ECA stressed that the plans “would diminish and come into conflict” with women’s football losing its right to stage events in a European summer without a men’s tournament.
“Any decision regarding the future (of the international match calendar) can only be taken with the consent of the football clubs,” said the ECA, “with the well-being of the players at heart – and in accordance with the legally binding obligations which should not normally need to be renewed.
ECA has, however, supported an expansion of the Champions League in collaboration with UEFA with the group stage set to drop from six to 10 team matches from 2024.
The only major European clubs that are no longer members of the ECA are Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus for their ongoing pursuit of a European Super League. The breakaway was launched and collapsed in April, leading Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to succeed Juventus president Andrea Agnelli as ECA head.
Infantino has been accused of being an accomplice in the formation of breakup plans by the European elite before belatedly denying that he colluded with the rebels after months of silence. Infantino’s ties to the Super League have heightened suspicion within European football about his motivations for more regular World Cups which give FIFA even greater influence in a sport with club play at its heart. .
“IMC reform must be based on mutually agreed outcomes,” the ECA said, “balanced for the benefit of all, following honest and detailed consultation – not just in the singular interest of FIFA on the back of a series of public relations campaigns.