ZURICH: European clubs leaders Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Michel Centenaro delibrately stayed away from FIFA’s international calendar – but appear to have won most of the concessions they had demanded writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Revision of the calendar by a mixture of confederation, league and club representatives from around the world agreed to use the foundation of an agreement sorted at the start of last week between the European Club Association and European federation UEFA.

This means that the August national team friendly date – target of overwhelming criticism from Europe’s clubs and not especially beloved of national team coaches either – is being scrapped.

The ‘summit’ was led by FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, fresh from his high-profile involvement at the International Board meeting over the weekend. A FIFA statement afterwards emphasised how much “progress has been made on reaching a consensus about the international match calendar.”

The recommendations, based on the UEFA/clubs agreement, will go forward for approval to the FIFA executive committee on March 29/30.

Main points are:

1, Nine double dates in a two-year cycle (18 matches in total) with a 10th double date available for the non-European member associations during Euro 2016;

2, Even distribution of the nine double dates over each year (March-September-October-November), with a June window every second year (odd years);

3, No specific dates for friendlies, which can only be played within the framework of the double dates;

4, Players to be released from the Monday of any international week;

5, Two national team matches can be played during the international window until the Tuesday of the following week at the latest, e.g. with the first match on the Thursday;

6, In principle, a team shall play both games of the same window in the same confederation; however, it may play them in two different confederations provided precise criteria (relating to flight times, for example) are fully observed, in order to avoid travel overload for players.

7, A player may play more than one international tournament per year (Olympic and youth tournaments exluded): whenever CAF’s Africa Cup of Nations and CONCACAF’s Gold Cup are played in the same year as the FIFA Confederations Cup, players of teams from CAF and CONCACAF that have qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup may participate in both tournaments.

Concrete dates have been proposed for the 2015-2018 international match calendar, and it was suggested that the same principles be retained for the 2019-2022 format. This does not not, however, commit the calendar to fixing the World Cup finals of 2022 in summer or winter – a subject of continuing debate.