KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: UEFA has explained why its seven representatives on the 37-strong FIFA Council voted in vain against the world federation’s proposal to launch an expanded Club World Cup in June and July 2021.
The 24-team tournament would be held once every four years and replace the annual seven-team event staged every December, unloved by fans, sponsors and television.
European federation UEFA, explaining its opposition, said:
UEFA supports the view of its stakeholders and has the duty to protect the health of players. UEFA shares ECA’s view that the international match calendar in 2021 does not provide any realistic option to stage a 24-team Club World Cup and that it should furthermore not be played at a time when players should have a well-deserved rest period
The European members of the FIFA Council therefore unanimously voted against the FIFA proposal today.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been pushing for a new-style Club World Cup and finally appeared to achieve a breakthrough when FIFA Council in Miami voted to make a start in two years’ time. The tournament will take up the international calendar slot left vacant by the termination of the Confederations Cup.
European federation UEFA, led by its president Aleksander Ceferin, blocked the idea when Infantino suddenly unveiled it a year ago in FIFA Council, twinning it with a proposal for a global nations league and all to be funded by a $25bn offer from an unidentified international consortium.
Infantino’s clumsy attempt to push forward appeared, by the time council sat down in Miami, to have ‘lost’ both the global nations league and the mysterious consortium which had sought to bind him to an agreement of total confidentiality which excluded even council.
All FIFA’s other five regional confederations have always been in favour of a bigger club cup, recognising that the popularity of the big European clubs with broadcasters would hand them a free ride to more millions.
By contrast UEFA and the ECA wants to protest the exclusivity of its high-profile Champions League – also on financial grounds.
Miami thus saw Infantino, with the 2022 World Cup issues still unresolved, the nations league and $25bn offer all lost was left with only the Club World Cup as a political face-saver.
UEFA’s opposition to FIFA’s rush into the club world has been supported not only by the European Club Association but by FIFPro, the international players’ union.
A FIFPro statement ahead of FIFA Council’s meeting said:
Any further amendments to international tournaments should only be introduced after a comprehensive review of the match calendar has been undertaken and mandatory standards for the rest and recovery of players have been introduced.
There must be compulsory mid-season and off-season breaks, and the amount of matches and international travel each season must be limited. At international competitions like the World Cup, the minimum rest period between matches must be maintained at 72 hours.
Finally, the potentially enormous economic benefits of the new competition proposals should benefit all of football and address many of the historic failings that continue to affect players such as unpaid wages, inadequate career transition guidance and minimal investment in the women’s game.