International fixtures likely to be cut after clubs and Uefa reach agreement

 

A war of words broke out between FIFA and top European clubs today after a move that could see the number of internationals played each year slashed.

The European Clubs' Association (ECA) and UEFA have reached an agreement on proposals to change the international calendar, but the clubs are still refusing to talk to FIFA, who have the ultimate power over the number of matches.

The agreement would see an average of nine international matches played a year rather than 12, with nine double-headers over a two-year period and no one-off friendlies such as England v Holland tomorrow, and the August friendly date scrapped.

It is a compromise solution - last year the clubs demanded the number of internationals be halved to six a year - and was announced at the ECA general assembly in Warsaw today.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed however that the clubs' boycott on talks with FIFA still stands.

Rummenigge said: "The agreement with UEFA is a major break-through for European club football. With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football.

"The negotiations have not always proved easy, but were always conducted in a fair and respectful manner. I sincerely thank UEFA, in particular UEFA president Michel Platini, on behalf of all European clubs and look forward to our continued cooperation."

He added: "While an agreement has been reached with UEFA, the situation remains unsatisfactory in relation to FIFA. Unfortunately, discussions with the FIFA president have failed to lead to a satisfactory outcome which takes account of the clubs' demands."

UEFA also agreed to take out insurance to cover the wages of all players injured on international duty, starting at Euro 2012, and to increase the amount of money paid to clubs for their players taking part in the tournament.

The amount was 55 million euros for the last tournament and the new figure - a "substantial increase" according to the ECA - will be announced next month.

FIFA pointed out that only they have the power to make changes to the calendar.

A statement said: "FIFA is surprised by recent comments made by ECA stating that they are not satisfied with their discussions with football's world governing body regarding topics of interest to the European clubs, including the international match calendar.

"FIFA would like to recall that the international dates and the international match calendar have to be applied on a worldwide basis and that this calendar is ultimately regulated by FIFA, as football's world governing body."

The next meeting to discuss the international match calendar will be on March 5 but UEFA will have to put forward the ECA's position.

FIFA added: "Both ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and ECA general secretary Michele Centenaro are members of this working group and have been invited to attend the meeting, but have declined to take part in the meeting. ECA representatives have previously declined attendance to other FIFA committee meetings, making it very difficult for progress to be made in discussions with the European clubs."

The ECA added that in future, the clubs will have a 'referral right', meaning they have to give their consent to all decisions affecting European club football.

The clubs have however been unable to persuade UEFA to back them in their opposition to the timing of the African Nations Cup in January and February. The agreement merely states that the tournament "shall start as soon as possible in January".

UEFA's general secretary Gianni Infantino, said: "With this renewed agreement that for the first time will cover insurance for players registered with European clubs not only are we looking after the players, the clubs and the national associations, but we are also demonstrating a true respect and unity with our fellow football confederations.

"We are therefore extremely happy with the announcement of this renewed agreement with the ECA and we are equally confident that our calendar proposition will be approved by FIFA, who have always maintained dialogue with us on this matter."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk