KEIR RADNEDGE in LYON: European football federation UEFA has fired a warning shot across the bows of FIFA as relations between the two bodies continue to deteriorate.
The latest cause at issue is the $25bn proposal to Gianni Infantino, president of the world governing body, from a largely Asian consortium put together by the Centricus group and Japan’s Softbank.
Infantino has kept the identities within the consortium secret to honour a confidentiality agreement which also demands an answer within 60 days for the revamping of the Club World Cup and creation of a global nations league.
FIFA wuld hold a 51pc stake in an agency jointly running the events with the consortium which would guarantee $2bn for each Nations League and $3bn for each Club World Cup.
UEFA delegates on the FIFA Council were angered by the manner in which Infantino dropped the bare bones of the offer on them during a meeting in Bogota earlier this year. That anger has now manifest itself in an antagonistic statement issued here in Lyon, hours before the Europa League Final.
A statement after a meeting of UEFA’s professional football strategy council said: “The PFSC unanimously expressed serious reservations about the process surrounding the FIFA Club World Cup and Global Nations League proposals and in particular the hasty timing and lack of concrete information and underlined the need for a clearly defined procedure, which respect existing structures and decision-making bodies and which involves all key stakeholders.”
It added: “Such proposals must be considered as part of a global reflection on the overall international match calendar and cannot be decided upon in isolation.”
UEFA’s PFSC includes delegates from the European Club Association, the European Leagues (formerly EPFL) and the European division of international players’ union FIFPro.
FIFPro took a different, more thoughtful line.
Its own statement said: “FIFPro is taking the time needed to gather and assess the views of its unions and consult with players directly about the potential impact on their working lives.
“Critical issues such as player workload and the amount of recovery time players need between matches will be factored into FIFPro’s decision-making process.”
FIFPro president Philippe Piat said:”A time for change has come and FIFPro will continue to engage in conversations with FIFA as well as all others stakeholders on these proposals and other ideas that can contribute to positive improvements for players and the game.”
The issue could risk splitting the European Club Association. FIFA has managed direct discussions about the Club World Cup proposal with seven of Europe’s major outfits, namely Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
Several, including European and world champions Madrid, are understood to be enthusiastic about the concept which offers participants a $100m windfall on top of the revenues they generate from UEFA’s own annual Champions League.
FIFA’s Club World Cup is staged annually over a fortnight in December but attracts little interest from European broadcasters and commercial interests.
Hence the likelihood that Infantino will shortly summon a special meeting of FIFA Council to create a study group to examine converting the cup into a 24-club event every four years in June in years between the World Cup and continental national team championships.
Europe’s options for opposition are limited since it has only eight votes in the 36-strong council and much of the rest of the world is thought to be enthusiastic about the prospects held out by Infantino for a vast increase in development funds.