KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Leagues from across the world have launched a new pressure group hoping to rival the status enjoyed in the international game by the European Club Association.

The English Premier League hosted an inaugural meeting in London of the Global Leagues Forum which claims to represent competitions providing almost 90pc of the players at last year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Presumably the forum wants to prove more effective than the ill-starred European Professional Football Leagues which was comprehensively routed trounced in negotiations over the winter timing switch of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The status of any leagues grouping is questionable since all must operate under the jurisdiction of their national associations which comprise the voting membership of world federation FIFA and their respective regional confederations.

Independence from the national federations has proved significant in the freedom of action undertaken by the European clubs and also by the international players’ union, FIFPro.

A statement from the Premier League said the forum brought together “for the first time presidents, chairmen, chief executives and general secretaries from 23 professional top-flight football leagues, representing more than 1,100 clubs and nearly 20,000 players.”

Common issues

Explaining its purpose, the statement added: “The forum will enable best practice to be shared across the leagues as well as facilitate discussions on common issues, including the international match calendar, players’ status and transfer matters, international release of players, broadcasting and commercial rights and the integrity of competitions.”

However, settling on a unity of purpose may be more awkward than indicated. While the European leagues will have international relations with governing bodies in mind, others from the developing world are more interested in commercial partnerships and knowledge transfer.

Shehu Dikko, chairman of the Nigerian League Management Company, indicated that he hoped to benfit in terms of models for financial redistribution and development and technical guidance.

He added: “The contacts we have made here will surely impact positively on our efforts to improve on the fortune of the NPFL.”

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League and a disappointed member of the vain rearguard action against a Qatar timing switch, said: “This Forum is an excellent opportunity for leagues from across the world to come together, share best practice, and discuss common issues.

“We all want to see the continued growth of professional football in a sustainable and responsible manner that benefits the wider sport.”

Other leaders of Europe’s major leagues who attended included France’s Frederic Thiriez, Germany’s Christian Seifert and Spain’s Javier Tebas.

A second forum will be hosted by Major League Soccer, in Miami, later this year.


Attendance list

Jack Oguda (ceo, Kenyan Premier League)
Nduka Irabor (ceo, Nigerian Professional Football League)
Shehu Dikko (chairman, Nigerian Professional Football League)
Irvin Khosa (chairman, Premier Soccer League, South Africa)

Rafael Espinosa (general secretary, DIMAYOR, Colombia)
Fernando Humerez (president, Liga de Futbol Profesional Boliviano)
Decio de Maria (president, Liga MX, Mexico)
Selim B. Canahuati (president, Liga N. de Futbol Profesional Honduras)
Mark Abbott (deputy comissioner, Major League Soccer, US)
Todd Turbin (evp of competition, Major League Soccer, US)
Julian Solano Porras (president, Primera Division de Costa Rica)

Ma Chengquan (chairman, Chinese Super League)
Liu Weidong (general manager, Chinese Super League)
Mitsuru Murai (chairman, J-League)
Shoji Fujimura (general manager, J-League)
Hani T. Ballan (ceo, Qatar Stars League)
Mushtaq Al Waeli (senior advisor, Qatar Stars League)
Mohammed Al Nowaiser (chairman, Saudi Professional League)
Yasser Al Misehal (ceo, Saudi Professional League)
Suhail Al Areefi (ceo, UAE Arabian Gulf League, Pro League Committee)

Christian Seifert (ceo, Bundesliga)
Georg Pangl (general secretary, European Professional Football Leagues)
Javier Tebas Medrano (president, La Liga, Spain)
Giovanni Pifarotti (head of international affairs, Lega Nazionale
Professionisti Serie A, Italy)
Joao Martins (general secretary, Liga Portugal)
Frederic Thiriez (president, Ligue 1, France)
Richard Scudamore (ceo, Premier League)
Nic Coward (general secretary, Premier League)
Sergey Pryadkin (president, Russian Premier League)
Neil Doncaster (ceo, Scottish Professional Football League)
Edmond Isoz (senior manager, Swiss Football League)