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European football leaders say FIFA competition plans ‘unacceptable’

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

European soccer clubs, leagues and governing body UEFA have reiterated their opposition to FIFA’s plans for two new competitions, labelling them “unacceptable” in their current form.

Following a meeting of UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC), they said the were “adamant” that new competitions must be discussed only as part of talks on the international match calendar from 2024 onwards.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed the creation of a new 24-team Club World Cup, held every four years, and a global version of UEFA’s Nations League. He wants the tournaments to start in 2021.

The FIFA President said his plans, first put forward at a FIFA Council meeting in Bogota last March, were backed by an investment consortium willing to put in $25 billion over a 12-year cycle in return for 49 percent ownership of the competitions.

UEFA has said throughout that it needs more information, particularly on the identity of the investors.

“UEFA, ECA (the European Club Association) and European Leagues were adamant that the current proposals are unacceptable as they stand,” they said following a meeting of the PFSC on Monday at UEFA’s lakeside headquarters.

“They were of the unequivocal view that any decision on potential new competitions can only be made as part of an agreed framework for the international match calendar post-2024.”

Referring to the investors, they added that “all related sporting and commercial matters must be fully disclosed and discussed amongst professional football stakeholders beforehand.”

FIFA could not immediately be reached for comment.

The PFSC includes elected representatives from UEFA, the ECA, which represents 232 European clubs, the European Leagues organisation and the world players’union FIFPro.

The international match calendar, which is drawn up by world governing body FIFA, co-ordinates fixtures around the globe, allocating dates for international matches and tournaments to avoid clashes with domestic competitions.

FIFA’s plans would need changes to the current calendar which runs until 2024 and allows for eight to 10 internationals per year in addition to major tournaments such as the World Cup, European Championship and Copa America.

The current version of the Club World Cup is held every December but features only seven clubs, with the European and South American representatives entering at the semi-final stage.

REUTERS/Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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