LONDON: A summit – or showdown – is looming between FIFA, UEFA and Europe’s clubs over the balance of fixtures in the next international calendar. Presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are scheduled to meet Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association in Zurich between December 19 and 21 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Blatter and Platini will then have returned after the imminent Club World Cup in Japan during which FIFA will hold the executive committee to review the reforms process including the reopened ISL bankruptcy documentation.
The Zurich summit follows increasingly warlike words from Rummenigge and his ECA vice-president, Sandro Rosell of Barcelona, over the clubs’ demands for a radical reduction in the number of national team dates.
Rosell will also be in Tokyo in his other capacity as president of European champions Barcelona who are clear favourites to regain the world club crown. He recently issued a controversial call for all Europe’s major leagues to cut numbers from 20 or 18 to 16. Rosell wanted more dates freed up for an expanded Champions League – or for a breakaway rival.
Blatter talked of the meeting in the latest of a busy round of interviews with the continental European media (he appears to be avoiding the UK press), on this occasion with Spain’s Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo.
Asked if he were seeking a peace deal, Blatter said: “We’re going to discuss seriously the clubs’ proposals, trying to find a solution which suits all the clubs not only the biggest and that also takes into considerations the players – who are the most important people in all of this but whose needs are often forgotten. If the requests are reasonable then we will do what we can.”
Blatter said he approved of the idea to cut back top leagues to 16 clubs and that a FIFA commission, headed up by former French federation president Jean Fournet-Fayard, had come up with this idea 15 years ago but “the clubs themselves turned a deaf ear to it.”
Europe’s clubs have made no secret of their opposition to the suggestion by UEFA president Michel Platini that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be played in the winter and Blatter said: “FIFA does not want it then, either.”
He added: “No-one has asked for [that change] including Qatar which is agreement that the World Cup should be played in June and July as scheduled. If someone wants something different they have to ask us and we’ll see.”
Blatter has also ben reported in Germany as reiterating the fact – already well-aired – that a further decision on goal-line technology willbe taken by the International Football Association Board at its annual meeting in London next March.
He said: “There are now systems that combine precision, speed and are uncomplicated. We are now in the testing phase and the IFAB will vote in March 2012 in London over using this resource. If the final decision is made, it can be used from the 2012-13 season.”
The systems that have been worked on for years by British firm Hawk-Eye and German companies Cairos and Adidas are likely to be the ones closest to passing the tests.