KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH —- FIFA and Europe’s clubs have reached an inflation-busting agreement to settle the ‘compensation’ row over players appearing at the World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022.
After last month’s recommendation that the finals in the Gulf should be switched to November-December – ratified yesterday by the world federation’s executive committee here – the European Club Association talked angrily of a need for a financial sweetener.
A statement from FIFA confirmed that $209m will be available for splitting among the clubs in 2018 and the same sum again in 2022. The clubs will consider the huge increase as compensation. However FIFA, which always rejected a direct pay-out for shifting the World Cup in 2022 out of the traditional June-July date, rejects this.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter welcomed the deal, which extends the insurance cover for players in international competition, saying: “We are taking a huge step forward in promoting relations between FIFA and the clubs in a spirit of mutual and constructive cooperation.”
Explaining the mechanics of the agreement, secretary-general Jerome Valcke said: “We had a few meetings and decided to extend this agreement again with all the clubs of the different confederations [so] we will not enter into additional negotiations after the World Cup in 2018. It’s the same amount as the sums paid the 209 national associations as per the financial assistance programme.
“It’s a very important thing for us to make sure we can work in a very good partnership with the clubs around the world who will be part of the success of the World Cup. It has nothing to do with the release of players and it is not compensation because it is an extension of the current agreement from the World Cups of 2010 and 2014.”
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the ECA chairman who is also ceo of Bayern Munich, was as effusive as Blatter about the deal achieved after what he described as “serious and fair negotiations.”
He added: “For the first time, the European clubs will have a direct say on the international match calendar, which was very important to me personally.
“As a result, the ECA will be actively involved and contribute constructively to the design of the calendar, especially for 2022 . . . From an ECA perspective, this agreement is a great achievement. It marks another milestone for club football as a whole.”
The FIFA statement:
Recognising the importance of clubs’ contribution to global football structures, FIFA and the European Club Association (ECA) are pleased to announce an extension to their collaboration agreement, which was established for the first time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
The extended agreement, which was signed by FIFA President Blatter, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, aims to further enhance consideration of club football interests at FIFA level.
The FIFA president welcomes the agreement, which addresses a series of areas for stronger integration between international and club football, stating that with it, “we are taking a huge step forward in promoting relations between FIFA and the clubs in a spirit of mutual and constructive cooperation”.
Part of the agreement governs the distribution of benefits generated by the FIFA World Cup™ to the clubs. Based on the model developed for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups™, a total of USD 209 million will be distributed among the clubs releasing players to the participating teams in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. The same amount has been agreed for the 22nd edition to be staged in Qatar in 2022.
The agreement puts the emphasis on fundamental principles such as the promotion of training and player development as well as the sporting integrity of the competitions, in the interests of the game and its appeal to the public. It also includes provisions governing adherence to the International Match Calendar until 2018, and to the effect that the International Match Calendar for the following period (2019-2022) will be based on the same principles as the one currently applicable.
In addition, FIFA will continue with the Club Protection Programme, by which clubs are compensated for losses incurred due to players being injured while on international duty. The Club Protection Programme will therefore be extended to at least until after the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.
The ECA statement:
The European Club Association (ECA) is pleased to confirm that a new collaboration agreement with FIFA was signed. The clubs are the lifeblood of football and now their fundamental importance to the global game is being recognised through an agreement with the world governing body: it means recognition, protection and motivation for the clubs whose players light up the international stage.
Part of the agreement governs the distribution of club benefits generated by the FIFA World Cup based on the model developed for the 2010 and 2014 tournaments: a total of $209m will be distributed among the clubs releasing players to the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
Furthermore, the seven-year agreement includes benefits that go beyond the financial: the ECA now has a mandate to promote clubs’ interests at FIFA level and develop a collaborative working relationship with FIFA.
For example, the ECA secured a direct say on the international match calendar – changes thereto will have to be jointly discussed and agreed.
Furthermore, the Club Protection Programme remains in force and will in the future also cover international women’s football.
Commenting on the agreement, ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: “In serious and fair negotiations, the ECA has agreed with FIFA on a transparent economic and organisational cooperation until 2022. For the first time, the European clubs will have a direct say on the international match calendar, which was very important to me personally.
As a result, the ECA will be actively involved and contribute constructively to the design of the calendar, especially for 2022. Moreover, the World Cup club benefits will triple from $70m to $209m for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022. These payments will benefit clubs from around the world who release World Cup players to their respective national associations. From an ECA perspective, this agreement is a great achievement. It marks another milestone for club football as a whole!”